The Sicilian nobleman Sigismondo d'India was roughly contemporary with Monteverdi (both began their careers around 1600); the musical ferment of that period led, in d'India's case, to a very heady brew. His madrigals–duets, solos and five-voice works–are like inebriated Monteverdi: d'India set the Italian poetic texts (usually dealing with a lover's pain) with even less regard for academic counterpoint and even more surprising twists of harmony than did his more-famous colleague, yet the music never veers into the disorienting, seemingly willful weirdness of Gesualdo.
…Although aficionados of English sacred music of the late sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries may already have recordings of the works of Byrd and Gibbons included here, few will be likely to have recordings of much by Humfrey – and that may be this set's most persuasive recommendation. Harmonia Mundi's digital sound, which ranges from 1987 for the Byrd through 1992 for the Humfrey to 2003 for the Gibbons, is consistently clear, deep, and warm.
"Orlando Gibbons is my favorite composer -always has been, I can't think of anybody who represents the end of an era better than Orlando Gibbons does." This profession of faith in the great English virginalist is more than an act of defiance: it harks back to Gould's early childhood experiences with Puritanism.– Michael Stegemann
Born into an English musical family, organist and composer Christopher Gibbons (1615-1676) probably received early training from his famous father Orlando Gibbons. He sang in the choir of the Chapel Royal and went on to a distinguished career at Westminster Abbey and in the court of Charles II. With this showcase programme of motets, anthems, fantasias for strings, and organ voluntaries (all of which are receiving their first recording), Richard Egarr, the Academy of Ancient Music and the Choir of the AAM, aim to rescue the composer from unjust obscurity.
Guillaume Bouzignac (1690?-1743?) was not attached to the French Royal Court. His music was not published by Ballard, who held a royal monopoly on musical publication. He MAY have been a choirboy in Narbonne, a master of the choirboys in Grenoble, a musical servant of Henri Montmorency, governor of Languedoc at the time of the wars against the Huguenots, and a person of musical importance in the city of Tours, where the manuscript of these motets was discovered in 1905. That covers almost everything that's known about the composer outside of the very specific information about his musical thought contained in his works.
The award-winning, highly-acclaimed English choral ensemble Stile Antico presents Passion and Resurrection, an album featuring texts inspired by the dramatic events of Holy Week and Easter set to music by some of the greatest Renaissance composers from England and the Continent. Included are two settings of the poem Woefully arrayed - the first by William Cornysh (1465-1523) and the second composed especially for Stile Antico in 2009 by contemporary composer John McCabe. This is the work's first recording.
Royal Rhymes and Rounds is the King's Singers' contribution to the 60th anniversary of Queen Elizabeth II's accession to the throne in 2012. There are ballads, part songs, madrigals, rounds, and anthems written during the reigns of (and some also in honor of) Henry VIII, Elizabeth I, Victoria, and Elizabeth II. The music from the times of Henry and Elizabeth I is especially strong since it was the era of a flowering of English song, which then lay relatively dormant for several centuries. The composers include such luminaries as William Cornysh, Orlando Gibbons, John Dowland, and Thomas Weelkes, as well as Henry himself, whose rousing ballad Pastime with good companie opens the album. It's in this transparent repertoire that the group sounds its absolute best. The singers' immaculate intonation, focused tone quality, and sensitive musicianship are remarkable.