Voices of spun gold ’ bbc music Magazine Venue: Rochester Cathedral 26. 09. 2014 The King’s Singers



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 ‘

.. voices of spun gold..’  BBC Music Magazine

Venue: Rochester Cathedral
26.09.2014
The King’s Singers

David Hurley, Countertenor

Timothy Wayne-Wright, Countertenor

Julian Gregory, Tenor

Christopher Bruerton, Baritone

Christopher Gabbitas, Baritone

Jonathan Howard, Bass
Acclaimed for their life-affirming virtuosity and irresistible charm, The King’s Singers are in global demand. Their work – synonymous with the best in vocal ensemble performance – appeals to a vast international audience. They perform over 120 concerts each year, touring regularly to Europe, the United States, Asia and Australasia. The King’s Singers are admired for their musical excellence and recognised as consummate entertainers – a class act with a delightfully British sense of humour. Their generous spirit and magical ability to move audiences have remained constant since the group’s foundation in 1968.
They have premiered more than 200 new works, including landmark compositions by Luciano Berio, György Ligeti, James MacMillan, Krzysztof Penderecki, Toru Takemitsu, John Tavener and Eric Whitacre, and commissioned thrilling arrangements of everything from jazz standards to pop chart hits. The King’s Singers are double Grammy® award-winning artists, honoured in 2009 for their Signum Classics release, Simple Gifts, and again in 2012 for their contribution to Eric Whitacre’s Light & Gold album on Decca. In June 2013 they were chosen as one of only two vocal ensembles to enter the Gramophone Hall of Fame, honoured for their unique discography of over 150 albums.
The King’s Singers are among Britain’s greatest musical exports. In recent seasons they have appeared at many of the world’s most prestigious venues, from the Berlin Philharmonie and New York’s Carnegie Hall to the Amsterdam Concertgebouw and Sydney Opera House. Their concert schedule in 2014 has taken them to the United States, China, South Korea, Hong Kong, Australia, New Zealand, Germany, France, Italy, Sweden, the Netherlands, Belgium, Latvia, Hungary and Poland. Highlights of the group’s 2014/15 season include an invitation to perform at the American Choral Directors Association annual conference in Salt Lake City, where they will give the world premiere of a new work by Jake Heggie.
Visit www.kingssingers.com for the latest news, blog entries, video blogs, Tweets and YouTube updates.



Programme

William Byrd Sing Joyfully

Thomas Tallis In manus tuas

William Byrd O Lord make thy servant

Thomas Tallis The Lamentations of Jeremiah part 1
Francs Poulenc Quatre petites prieres de Saint-Francois d’Assise

Claude Debussy Trois Chansons de Charles D’Orleans


Trad. arr. Howard Goodall Star of the County Down

Trad. arr. Langford The Oak and the Ash

Trad. arr. Bertie Rice Suo Gan

Trad. arr. Simon Carrington O my love is like a red, red rose

Bob Chilcott A Thanksgiving
Interval
Famous English Poets:

Gerald Finzi (words by Robert Bridges) My spirit sang all day

Edward Bairstow (words by Percy Shelley) Music when soft voices die

Barry Ferguson (words by Thomas Hardy) Afterwards

Stanley Wilson (words by Frances Cornford) To a lady seen from a train

Close Harmony A selection of music from the lighter side of The King’s Singers repertoire.




Programme Notes
The two foremost composers of the English renaissance, Thomas Tallis (1505 – 1585) and William Byrd (1543-1623), had much in common. Both served as Gentlemen of the Chapel Royal; both contributed some of the finest liturgical music ever written; both were granted a joint exclusive and lucrative publishing licence by Queen Elizabeth I; both remained adherents to the Roman Catholic Church, despite England’s “conversion” to the Protestant faith; and both lived into their 80s. Of the two, Byrd is perhaps considered the “Master” of the period, and all available evidence indicates that he was recognised as such by his contemporaries, but he himself considered Tallis to be the supreme composer of his day. It is clear from the preface in the collection of Byrd and Tallis’s music, “Cantiones Sacrae” (1575), that Byrd was a pupil of Tallis’s, but subsequently they worked as colleagues, both enjoying the benefits of their publishing monopoly, one that covered all polyphonic music. There were strict rules that outlawed the selling of imported music – “we straightly by the same forbid...to be brought out of any forren Realmes...any songe or songes made and printed in any foreen countrie”, which strengthened the monopoly further. Despite this, their early publications were not hugely popular, possibly because both were known to be Catholics, and some may have feared the consequences of an association, however far removed, with recusants. However it seems that neither suffered for their faith, for both kept favour in the courts throughout their lives. It was helpful that both seemed happy to compose works in English for the Anglican rite, but it is Tallis’s Latin music that will feature in tonight’s concert, In manus tuas and the extraordinary setting of Lamentations of Jeremiah the Prophet. Towards the end of Tallis’s life, Byrd embraced an ever more complex compositional style, using fragments of text from many Biblical sources, whilst Tallis remained true to the setting of texts from the Liturgy.
Francis Poulenc, who died only fifty years ago, is renowned for treating all manner of themes in his writing. Born in Paris, Poulenc studied with Ricardo Viñes and Charles Koechlin, and became a member of the group known as "Les Six," who reacted against the excessive refinement of the impressionists, and whose objective was, in the words of their spokesman Jean Cocteau, "the sophistication of the graceful." Composed in 1948, Quatre petites prières de Saint François d'Assise was dedicated to the monastery choir at Champfleury, in particular Frère Jérome, a monk there who was also Poulenc’s great-nephew. Based on the texts by Saint Francis, Poulenc describes these four pieces as “musical settings of his poignant little prayers” which see the composer combining the dynamic textures of plainchant and early polyphony with twisting choral colour within a homophony framework.
Charles d'Orléans was one of the leading figures of French literature of the early fifteenth century. He was captured by the English at the battle of Agincourt in 1415, and held at Windsor Castle for the next 25 years, and it was during this time of enforced leisure that he wrote most of his courtly verse. Claude Debussy wrote his three settings of Charles d'Orléans’ poems for a cappella chorus between 1898 and 1908. This was a period, lying between the moral propriety -- and hypocrisy -- of the nineteenth century and the harsh realities of human nature exposed by the first World War, when it was fashionable for educated and wealthy people to indulge themselves unashamedly. Debussy was a man who, one might say, lived this fashion to the full, and it is in this spirit that he approaches and selects from d'Orléans' poetry. The first poem praises the beauty of a woman, the second contemplates the pleasure of lying in a warm bed in the morning without having to get up, and the third wishes cold winter to be banished for ever for the loveliness of spring. Debussy sets these in a pseudo-Renaissance style, suffused with the luscious harmonies that are his trade-mark.
The folksongs we know in Britain today have been part of our heritage ever since simple medieval hymn tunes were given secular words, and minstrels started on their musical rounds. They have served as a basis of musical masterpieces from the thirteenth century to the present, and much of the (now barely understood) imagery in their words finds its parallel in Renaissance painting. In the early part of the twentieth century, the pioneering work of folksong collectors such as Cecil Sharp brought forth a wealth of beautiful material, much neglected, but familiar through the widely varying regional versions of many texts and melodies, like a musical version of "Chinese Whispers" played over the centuries. Folksongs have been an integral part of The King's Singers' repertoire since their early performing days, and the collection sung tonight represents but a portion of the rich treasure collected and arranged for The King's Singers over the years.
English composer and conductor, Bob Chilcott (born 1955) began his musical education as a chorister and choral scholar in the choir of King’s College, Cambridge, where he is best known for singing Pie Jesu on the choir’s 1967 recording of Fauré’s Requiem. For twelve years, Chilcott sung tenor with The King’s Singers, leaving in 1997 to focus on composing. For a May 2008 concert, Bob also wrote a setting of the Prayer of St Richard. A Thanksgiving sets words by the 13th-century Bishop of Chichester, Richard de Wych. It is believed that St Richard recited the prayer on his deathbed. The original Latin version was transcribed by the Bishop’s confessor, Ralph Bocking, and later translated into the well-known English language prayer.
Sir Edward Bairstow (1874 – 1946) is equally known as an organist and composer. He served as organist at York Minster from 1913 until his death. His Yorkshire roots held him in York even when he was offered the organist job at Westminster Abbey. He had a reputation for bluntness, and did not always endear himself to others. However he was widely admired for both his church music and his secular partsongs. Bairstow was respected as a teacher, although he was a hard taskmaster. One of his more illustrious pupils was the composer Gerald Finzi (1901 – 1956) who was tutored by Bairstow for five years from the age of sixteen. Finzi is best-known as a song-writer, but also wrote in other genres, including some fine partsongs. His particular skill was in the empathy he showed to the poetry he set, as you can hear in the piece to be sung this evening.
Barry Ferguson writes of his piece written for the group that ‘for me, the mixture of Thomas Hardy and The King’s Singers is potent indeed. I discovered Hardy’s novels at school, and his life-changing poetry a short time later – emphasized by the song cycles of Finzi and Britten. I knew several of the founder members of The King’s Singers when I was up at Cambridge in the 1960s. And the poet and the singers brought together this evening, such stuff as dreams are made on. My setting is inscribed ‘for The King’s Singers, in admiration.’ Hardy’s ‘Afterwards’ reveals the loving heart of a compassionate man: not a pessimist but a realist. Everything passes, he seems to say. Notice it, cherish it while you can. Amen to that I say, Barry Ferguson.’
Stanley Wilson (1899 – 1953) is a less well-known English composer. He studied composition with Stanford at the Royal College of Music, and after the First World War he began a long and distinguished career as a music teacher. In 1945 he was appointed Director of Music at Dulwich College, a post he held until his death.
We end tonight’s programme with a selection of material from the lighter side of our repertoire.
Text and Translations
Sing Joyfully

Sing joyfully to God our strength; sing loud unto the God of Jacob!

Take the song, bring forth the timbrel, the pleasant harp, and the viol.

Blow the trumpet in the new moon, even in the time appointed, and at our feast day.

For this is a statute for Israel, and a law of the God of Jacob.

(Psalm 81:1-4)


O Lord, make thy servant Elizabeth our Queen to rejoice in thy strength

O Lord, make thy servant Elizabeth our Queen to rejoice in thy strength: give her her heart's desire, and deny not the request of her lips; but prevent her with thine everlasting blessing, and give her a long life, even for ever and ever. Amen.


In Manus Tuas

In manus tuas, Domine, commendo spiritum meum.

Redemisti me Domine, Deus veritatis. — John 6:30.
Into your hands, O Lord, I commend my spirit.

You have redeemed me, O Lord, O God of truth.
Lamentations of Jeremiah 1

Incipit lamentatio Jeremiae Prophetae:

ALEPH. Quomodo sedet sola civitas plena populo: Facta est quasi vidua domina gentium; princeps provinciarum facta est sub tributo.
BETH. Plorans ploravit in nocte, et lacrimæ ejus in maxillis ejus: non est qui consoletur eam, ex omnibus caris ejus; omnes amici ejus spreverunt eam, et facti sunt ei inimici.
Ierusalem, Ierusalem, convertere ad Dominum Deum tuum.
Here begins the lamentations of Jeremiah the prophet:

ALEPH. How does the city sit solitary, that was full of people: How is she become as a widow: She that was great among the nations, and princess among the provinces, how is she become tributary.
BETH. She weepeth sore in the night, and her tears are on the cheeks; among all her lovers she has none to comfort her: All her friends have dealt treacherously with her, they are become her enemies.
Quatre Petites Prières de Saint François d'Assise


i. Salut, Dame sainte

Salut, Dame Sainte, reine très sainte, Mère de Dieu,

ô Marie qui êtes vierge perpétuellement, élue par le très Saint Père du Ciel,

consacrée par Lui, avec son très saint Fils bien aimé et l’esprit Paraclet,

Vous en qui fut et demeure toute plénitude de grâce et tout bien!

Salut, palais; salut, tabernacle; salut, maison;

Salut, vêtement; salut, servante; salut, mère de Dieu!

Et salut à vous toutes, saintes vertus qui par la grâce

et l’illumination du Saint Esprit, êtes versées dans les

coeurs des fidèles et, d’infidèles que nous sommes, nous rendez fidèles à Dieu.


Hail Holy Lady, most holy queen, mother of God,

Mary for ever a virgin, chosen by the most holy Father of Heaven,

consecrated by Him with his most holy and most beloved Son and the Holy Ghost,

You in whom lies the fullness of grace and all goodness!

Hail, palace; hail, tabernacle, hail, dwelling-place;

Hail, vestment, hail, handmaid, hail, mother of God!

And hail to all your holy virtues who, by the grace and

illumination of the Holy Spirit, are poured into the hearts of the faithful,

And, faithless though we are, make us faithful to God!
ii. Tout puissant, très saint

Tout puissant, très saint, très haut et souverain Dieu;

souverain bien, bien universel,

bien total; toi qui seul est bon;

puissions-nous te rendre toute louange, toute gloire,

toute reconnaissance, tout honneur, toute bénédiction;

puissions-nous te rapporter toujours à toi tous les biens.

Amen


Almighty, most holy, most high and sovereign God,

Sovereign, universal and good;

You who alone are good,

may we offer you praise, glory,

gratitude, honour, blessing;

May we always bring to you everything that is good.

Amen.
iii. Seigneur, je vous en prie

Seigneur, je vous en prie,

que la force brûlante et douce de votre amour absorbe mon âme

et la retire de tout ce qui est sous le ciel,

afin que je meure par amour de votre amour

puisque vous avez daigné mourir par amour de mon amour.


Lord, I beg you,

Let the burning and gentle force of your love pervade my soul

And withdraw it from all that is below Heaven,

That I might die for love of your love,

Since you died for love of my love.
iv. O mes très chers frères

O mes très chers frères

et mes enfants bénis pour toute l’éternité,

écoutez-moi, écoutez la voix de votre Père:

Nous avons promis de grandes choses,

on nous a promis de plus grandes;

gardons les unes et soupirons après les autres.

Le plaisir est court, la peine éternelle.

La souffrance est légère, la gloire infinie.

Beaucoup sont appelés, peu sont élus,

tous recevront ce qu’ils auront mérité. Ainsi soit-il.


O my dear brothers,

Children blest for all eternity,

Listen to me, listen to your Father’s voice:

We have promised great things,

We have been promised greater things;

Let us preserve one and long for the other.

Pleasure is short-lived, pain eternal.

Suffering is light, glory infinite.

Many are called but few are chosen,

And all will receive what they merit. Amen.
Trois chansons de Charles d’Orleans
Dieu! qu’il la fait bon regarder

la gracieuse bonne et belle;

pour les grans biens que sont en elle

chascun est prest de la loüer.

Qui se pourroit d’elle lasser?

Tousjours sa beauté renouvelle.

Par de ça, ne de là, la mer

nescay dame ne damoiselle

qui soit en tous bien parfais telle.

C’est ung songe que d’i penser:

Dieu! qu’il la fait bon regarder.
God, what a vision she is;

one imbued with grace, true and beautiful!

For all the virtues that are hers

everyone is quick to praise her.

Who could tire of her?

Her beauty constantly renews itself;

On neither side of the ocean

do I know any girl or woman

who is in all virtues so perfect;

it’s a dream even to think of her;

God, what a vision she is.
Quant j’ai ouy le tabourin

sonner pour s’en aller au may,

en mon lit n’en ay fait affray

ne levé mon chief du coissin

en disant: il est trop matin

ung peu je me rendormiray:

Quant j’ai ouy le tabourin

sonner pour s’en aller au may,

jeunes gens partent leur butin;

De non chaloir m’accointeray

A lui je m’abutineray.

Trouvé l’ay plus prouchain voisin

Quant j’ai ouy le tabourin

Sonner pour s’en aller au may,

En mon lit n’en ay fait affray

ne levé mon chief du coissin.


When I hear the tambourine

sound, calling us to May,

in my bed I remain calm,

not lifting my head from the pillow

saying, "It is too early,

I’ll fall asleep again."

When I hear the tambourine

sound, calling us to May,

the young jump from partner to partner

not even bothering to remember you.

From him, I’ll move on,

finding a lover that’s conveniently close by.

When I hear the tambourine

sound, calling us to May,

in my bed I remain calm,

not lifting my head from the pillow.
Yver, vous n’estes qu’un villain!

Esté est plaisant et gentil

en témoing de may et d’avril

qui l’accompaignent soir et main.

Esté revet champs bois et fleurs

de salivrée de verdure

et de maintes autres couleurs,

par l’ordonnance de nature.

Mais vous, Yver, trop estes plein

de nége, vent, pluye et grézil.

On vous deust banir en éxil.

Sans point flater je parle plein:

Yver, vous n’estes qu’un villain!
Winter, you’re nothing but a villain!

Summer is pleasant and nice,

joined to May and April,

who go hand in hand.

Summer dreams of fields, woods, and flowers,

covered with green

and many other colours,

by nature’s command.

But you, Winter, are too full

of snow, wind, rain, and hail.

You should be banished!

Without exaggerating, I speak plainly—

Winter, you’re nothing but a villain!
The Star of the County Down

O Rosie,

Near to Banbridge Town in the County Down

on a morning in July,

Down a boreen green came a sweet caleen,

and she smile as she passed me by.

Oh, she looked so neat,

From her two white feet to the sheen of her nut brown hair.

Such a coaxin’ elf,

I’d to shake myself to make sure I was really there.


Oh, from Bantry Bay up to Derry Quay

and from Galway Town,

No maid I’ve seen like the brown caileen

that I met in the County Down.


O Rosie,

As she onward sped I scratched my head

and I gazed with a feelin’ quare.

There I said, say I, to a passerby,

“Who’s the maid with the nut brown hair?”

Oh, he smiled at me and with pride says he,

“That’s the gem of Ireland’s crown.

Young Rosie McCann from the banks of the Bann,

She’s the Star of the County Down.”
Oh, from Bantry Bay up to Derry Quay

and from Galway Town,

No maid I’ve seen like the brown caileen

that I met in the County Down.


O Rosie,

At the Harvest Fair she’ll be surely there

so I’ll dress in my Sunday clothes,

And I’ll try sheep’s eyes and deludtherin lies

On the heart of the nut brown Rose.
No pipe smoke, horse yoke, plough with rust turn brown,

‘Til a smiling bride by my own fireside

sits the Star of the County Down
Oh, from Bantry Bay up to Derry Quay

and from Galway Town,

No maid I’ve seen like the brown caileen

that I met in the County Down.


O Rosie.
The Oak and the Ash

O the oak and the ash and the bonny ivy tree

How I wish once again in the North I could be.
A north country maid up to London had strayed

Although with her nature it did not agree.

She wept and she sighed and so bitterly she cried,

"How I wish once again in the North I could be."


For the oak and the ash and the bonny ivy tree

They flourish at home in my own country.


While sadly I roam I regret my dear home,

Where lads and young lasses are making the hay.

The merry bells ring and the birds sweetly sing,

The meadows are pleasant and maidens are gay.


O the oak and the ash and the bonny ivy tree

They flourish at home in my own country.


No doubt did I please, I could marry with ease,

For where maidens are fair, many lovers will come.

But the one whom I wed must be North country bred

And tarry with me in my north country home.


O the oak and the ash and the bonny ivy tree

They flourish at home in my own country.


How I wish once again in the north I could be.
Suo-Gân

Huna blentyn ar fy mynwes,

Clyd a chynnes ydyw hon;

Breichiau mam sy'n dynn amdanat,

Cariad mam sy dan fy mron;

Ni chaiff dim amharu'th gyntun,

Ni wna undyn â thi gam;

Huna'n dawel, annwyl blentyn,

Huna'n fwyn ar fron dy fam.

 

Huna'n dawel, heno, huna,



Huna'n fwyn, y tlws ei lun;

Pam yr wyt yn awr yn gwenu,

Gwenu'n dirion yn dy hun?

Ai angylion fry sy'n gwenu

Arnat ti yn gwenu'n llon,

Tithau'n gwenu'n ôl dan huno,

Huno'n dawel ar fy mron?

 

Paid ag ofni, dim ond deilen



Gura, gura ar y ddôr;

Paid ag ofni, ton fach unig                       

Sua, sua ar lan y môr;

Huna blentyn, nid oes yma

Ddim i roddi iti fraw;

Gwena'n dawel yn fy mynwes

Ar yr engyl gwynion draw.

 

Sleep, my baby, on my bosom,



Warm and cosy take your rest,

Feel my arms so tight around you,

Know the love that fills my breast.

Nothing can disturb your sleeping,

No one cause you any harm,

Sleep in safety, lovely baby,

Sleep your sleep of peace and calm.

 

Sleep in safety, sleep till morning,



May your sleep be sound and deep;

Why, I seem to see you smiling,

Smiling sweetly in your sleep.

Do the angels up in heaven

Smile to see that secret smile?

Yes, they surely see you smiling,

Sleeping safely all the while.

 

Don’t be frightened, just a leaf is



Tapping, tapping at the door.

Don’t be frightened, just a wave is

Lapping, lapping along the shore.

Sleep, my baby, there is nothing

Here can cause you any fright;

Smile serenely from my bosom,

At the angels robed in white.
Translation © Dr. Rhian Davies
O, my love is like a red, red rose
O, my love is like a red, red rose,
That is newly sprung in June.
O, my love is like a melody,
That is sweetly played in tune.

As fair thou art my bonnie lass,


So deep in love am I,
And I will love you still, my Dear,
‘Til all the seas gang dry.

Till all the seas gang dry, my dear,


Till all the seas gang dry
And I will love thee still, my dear,
Till all the seas gang dry.

'Til all the seas gang dry my dear


And the rocks melt with the sun
And I will love thee still, my dear
While the sands of life shall run.

But fare thee well, my only love


Oh, fare thee well a while
And I will come again, my love
Tho' 't were ten thousand mile.

Tho' 't were ten thousand mile, my love


Tho' 't were ten thousand mile
And I will come again, my love
Tho' 't were ten thousand mile.
A Thanksgiving

Thanks be to Thee, Lord Jesus Christ

For all the benefits Thou hast given me,

For all the pains and insults

Which thou has borne for me.

O most merciful Redeemer, friend and brother,

May we know Thee more clearly,

Love Thee more dearly,

And follow Thee more nearly

Day by day.

Amen.
My Spirit Sang All Day

My spirit sang all day

O my joy.

Nothing my tongue could say,

Only my joy!

My heart an echo caught

O my joy.

And spake, Tell me thy thought,

Hide not thy joy.

My eyes gan peer around,

O my joy.

What beauty hast thou found?

Shew us thy joy.

My jealous ears grew whist;

O my joy.

Music from heaven is’t,

Sent for our joy?

She also came and heard;

O my joy,

What, said she, is this word?

What is thy joy?

And I replied, O see,

O my joy,

‘Tis thee, I cried, ‘tis thee:

Thou art my joy.
Music, when soft voices die

Music, when soft voices die,

Vibrates in the memory -

Odours, when sweet violets sicken,

Live within the sense they quicken.
Rose leaves, when the rose is dead,

Are heaped for the beloved's bed;

And so thy thoughts, when thou art gone,

Love itself shall slumber on.


Afterwards

When the Present has latched its postern behind my tremulous stay,

And the May month flaps its glad green leaves like wings,

Delicate-filmed as new-spun silk, will the neighbours say,

“He was a man who used to notice such things”?
If it be in the dusk when, like an eyelid’s soundless blink,

The dewfall-hawk comes crossing the shades to alight

Upon the wind-warped upland thorn, a gazer may think,

“To him this must have been a familiar sight.”


If I pass during some nocturnal blackness, mothy and warm,

When the hedgehog travels furtively over the lawn,

One may say, “He strove that such innocent creatures should come to no harm,

But he could do little for them; and now he is gone.”


If, when hearing that I have been stilled at last, they stand at the door,

Watching the full-starred heavens that winter sees,

Will this thought rise on those who will meet my face no more,

“He was one who had an eye for such mysteries”?


And will any say when my bell of quittance is heard in the gloom,

And a crossing breeze cuts a pause in its outrollings,

Till they rise again, as they were a new bell’s boom,

“He hears it not now, but used to notice such things”?


To a lady seen from the train

To a lady seen from a train

O why do you walk through the fields in gloves,

Missing so much and so much?

O fat white woman whom nobody loves,

Why do you walk through the fields in gloves,

When the grass is soft as the breast of doves

And shivering sweet to the touch?



O why do you walk through the fields in gloves,

Missing so much and so much?

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