Throughout the late Renaissance the music of England’s Chapel Royal had changed significantly with each new ruler, and the ascension of King James I to the throne in 1603 was no exception. James, despite being an ineffectual ruler, was an intellectual and like his wife, Queen Anne of Denmark, loved poetry and plays. Orlando Gibbons and Thomas Tomkins, active composers and keyboardists at the Chapel Royal during the reign of James, no doubt were greatly influenced by the King’s interests, thus attentive to expressing the texts and their meaning in their vocal and choral compositions. Their music helped bridge the gap between the austere polyphony that was a hallmark of the Tudor Era, and the progressive turn towards an English musical language marked by melancholy and sensuality.
This program explores the development of these characteristics in the unique harmonic expressivity and musical rhetoric in the vocal and choral music of Gibbons and Tomkins. Gibbons was a leading composer, virginalist and organist of the late Tudor and early Jacobean periods who wrote a number of madrigals and many popular verse anthems, all to English texts. Tomkins, a Welsh-born composer of the late Tudor and early Stuart periods, composed choral music more conservatively, mainly in the polyphonic Renaissance style, including many highly expressive madrigals and both full and verse anthems, plus keyboard and consort music as well.
Dainty, fine bird
Hosanna to the son of David
If ye be risen again with Christ
O clap your hands
O Lord in Thy wrath
Sing unto the Lord
Adieu, ye city pris’ning towers
I heard a voice from heaven
O praise the Lord
Too much I once lamented
When David heard
Adolescentulus sum ego
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