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The Fitzwilliam Virginal Book - 2CD set - SAVE £13

The Fitzwilliam Virginal Book - 2CD set - SAVE 13

Ref: CD229

WAS £14.99 - NOW £1.99

23 tracks 130 min
Click here to preview CD1 trk 1

Martin Souter

1983 virginals by David Law and other unusual keyboard instruments.

The Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge houses one of the world's most important manuscripts of keyboard music. The music was composed by England's greatest composers of the early seventeenth century and ranges from erudite fantasias to exquisite arrangements of popular songs and dances. Both these types can be heard on this album, along with the conventional pairing of slow and fast dances, the pavan and galliard.

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The Fitzwilliam Virginal Book
Martin Souter

CD1:

1 Pavana Lachrymae John Dowland set by William Byrd
2 All in a garden grine William Byrd
3 Duke of Brunswick's Alman John Bull
4 The King's Hunt John Bull
5 Walsingham William Byrd
6 Fantasia William Byrd
7 Giles Farnaby's Dreame, Giles Farnaby
His Rest, His Humour, Farnaby's Conceit
8 Robin John Munday
9 Prelude and Fantasia William Byrd
10 Pavana Philipi Peter Philips
11 Amarilli Peter Philips
12 Spagnioletta Giles Farnaby
13 Spanish Paven John Bull

CD2:

1 Miserere William Byrd
2 Ut, re, mi, fa, sol, la. a 4 voci Jan Pieterszoon Sweelinck
3 The carman's whistle William Byrd
4 Bon jour mon cueur Peter Philips
5 Pavana doloroso Peter Philips
6 Galiarda dolorosa Peter Philips
7 Pavana. Delight. Robert Johnson set by Giles Farnaby
8 Tregian's Ground William Byrd
9 Pavana. Ph. Tr. William Byrd
10 O Mistris Myne William Byrd

Martin Souter
Harpsichord, Andrea and Anthony Goble 1995 (CD1 trk. 1, 2, 5)
Clavichord, Arnold Dolmetsch 1897 (CD1 trk. 10)
Virginals, David Law 1983 (CD2)
Organ, anonymous c.1605 (CD1 trk. 3, 4, 6, 7, 8, 9, 11, 12, 13)

CCL CD229
Cover image: The Thames at Richmond c.1620 Flemish School 17th c. Fitzwilliam Museum/Bridgeman Art Library

P&C 2006 Classical Communications Ltd
Made in Great Britain

The Fitzwilliam Virginal Book
Martin Souter

The Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge houses one of the world's most important manuscripts of keyboard music. It consists of a small folio volume of 220 leaves of paper, 209 of which are filled with music, which is written on six line staves ruled by hand. Our more familiar modern notation uses five line staves. The beautiful binding is of crimson morocco, with gold tooling. The Fitzwilliam Virginal Book was compiled between 1612 and 1619 by Francis Tregian during the time in which he was a prisoner in the Fleet prison in London. This wealthy, artistic and cultured man had been imprisoned, along with many others, by King James I of England, who had resumed a campaign of persecution of Catholics which the English royal family had been waging intermittently since the days of Henry VIII almost a century earlier. The Tregian family remained true to their faith, even in the face of great adversity.

Life in prison cannot have been good for Francis Tregian, but he nevertheless seems to have had access to books and writing materials. In addition, he appears to have been sent large amounts of keyboard music - by English Catholic composers in the main - which he was able to copy into a single volume, using his beautiful and elaborate manuscript style.

Arguably the greatest composer represented in the Fitzwilliam Virginal Book, William Byrd (c.1543- 1628) wrestled with the conflicting demands of both Catholic and Protestant patrons for most of his life. He was granted a royal charter allowing him to publish music and he was largely responsible for one of the first printed volumes of keyboard music which appeared at almost the same time as the Fitzwilliam Virginal Book was compiled. John Bull (c.1563-1628) had similar religious issues throughout his life as well, finally leaving England in 1612 'pour le foy catholique' as documents state. He ended his life as organist at the cathedral in Antwerp. It is possible, (though undocumented) that he knew Jan Pieterszoon Sweelinck (1562-1621), who was organist at the Oude Kerke in Amsterdam during the same period. Peter Philips (c.1561-1628) was another Englishman who fled the country for reasons of faith, moving via the abbey of Douai in Northern France to the English College in Rome where he produced, amongst other things, some fine Italian madrigals. Giles Farnaby (c.1561-1640) remained in England all his life. He may have spread his skill beyond musical composition into building keyboard instruments, and was also a farmer for many years. Munday was organist at St George's Chapel, Windsor. Johnson and Dowland were famous lute composers of the day whose music was frequently re-arranged by keyboard composers.

The music of the Fitzwilliam Virginal Book ranges from erudite fantasias - strict contrapuntal pieces of a refined style and beauty - to short arrangements of popular songs and dances. Both these types can be heard on this album, along with the conventional pairing of slow and fast dances, the pavan and galliard. Various character pieces are also dotted about in the collection, including the exquisite 'self-portraits' of Farnaby. The first album features a variety of instruments: harpsichord, organ and clavichord. The organ is that of Knole House in Kent and is contemporary with music. The instrument on the second album is a virginals made in 1983 by David Law. This small instrument has a big heart and is perfectly suited to the extravagance and joy conveyed by this wonderful music.


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