The virginalist, organist and composer, Martin Peerson (c.1572-1651) was born in London, England and is thought to have been sacrist at Westminster Abbey. He also became almoner and master of the choristers at St. Paul’s Cathedral. His two books of secular vocal music (1620 and 1630) include settings for up to six voices with instruments and combine elements of ayre, madrigal, consort song and verse anthem.
It is the second book from 1630, entitled A Treatie of Humane Love, Mottects or Grave Chamber Music, that receives its premiere recording from I Fagiolini www.ifagiolini.com and Fretwork www.fretwork.co.uk together with organist James Johnstone www.jamesjohnstone.org on a new release from Regent Records www.regent-records.co.uk
Newly edited by Richard Rastall, this collection of song settings of poetry by Sir Fulke Greville, focuses predominantly on the subject of love. I Fagiolini and Fretwork bring a lovely, intimate sonority to Love, the delight, weaving a fine tapestry of sounds with individual voices shining through.
The choir rise to some lovely peaks in Beautie her cover is, finding much poetry with exquisite shaping. After a beautifully woven Time faine would stay, I Fagiolini build a fine layer of vocal textures in More than most faire subtly supported by the chamber organ of James Johnstone. They find some lovely varying tempi that add so much to the dramatic effect of this motet.
This choir bring some quite lovely textures to Thou window of the skie underlined by particularly fine, rich lower voices achieving some fine harmonies. Fretwork brings a lovely spring to the opening of You little starres to which I Fagiolini add a buoyant, humorous touch, individual voices bringing much delight.
The mournful And thou, O Love brings a real contrast with the lovely individual voices of I Fagiolini finding a real beauty as well as some particularly fine vocal expression, rising in strength before the end. The choir and instrumentalists bring some wonderful textures and sonorities to O Love, thou mortall speare, again with a wonderfully fluid tempo.
If I by nature brings a lovely expressive blend with some lovely harmonies, beautifully done by these artists. Cupid, my prettie boy is another motet with a buoyant, light-hearted touch, again with fine harmonies, having something of the feel of music for a masque with great characterisation from individual voices.
Love is the peace has a lovely flow with fine instrumental accompaniment to the overlaying of vocal lines from I Fagiolini who bring moments of superb vocal control. The choir bring much fine emphasis to the mournful Selfe pitties teares with rich harmonies and fine expression.
Fretwork and organist James Johnstone introduce Was ever man so matcht with boy? to which individual voices slowly join to bring another light-hearted, finely blended piece with beautifully overlaid vocal lines. Fretwork open O false and treacherous probabilitie with fine sonorities to which the voices of I Fagiolini join to add a lovely weaving of finely characterised lines together with more exquisite vocal control.
Tenor Hugo Hymas together with organist James Johnstone and Fretwork open Man, dreame no more bringing some quite wonderful sonorities before the rest of I Fagiolini in this lovely slow, beautifully wrought, motet. Baritone, Greg Skidmore brings a fine rich flexible voice to the opening of The flood that did/When thou hast swept later joined by the rest of the choir. Later the rich, fine bass voice of Jimmy Holliday is heard, finely accompanied.
The gentle Who trusts for trust (gap) is nicely developed with sensitive accompaniment from the organist. This choir show more fine vocal control and expression. There is a beautiful transition into Who thinks that sorrows felt where the choir bring some lovely phrasing and vocal overlay.
There are more beautiful sonorities as Man, dreame no more slowly unfolds, wonderfully shaped. A terrific performance. The rich bass voice of Jimmy Holliday opens Farewell, sweet boye. This is a lighter piece to which the rest of the choir add terrific character, buoyantly supported by Fretwork and James Johnstone.
The organ opens a very fine Under a throne quickly joined by the choir and Fretwork, the choir showing tremendous vocal agility. In Where shall a sorrow Fretwork weave a lovely opening to which Greg Skidmore brings a mournful, beautifully shaped line before all join in some fine harmonies.
Greg Skidmore and Fretwork continue with a lovely melancholy Dead, noble Brooke, I Fagiolini bringing a beautifully shaped conclusion. The choir blend a fine Where shall a sorrow bringing a lovely texture and rising through some terrific passages before leading into a lovely six part Dead, noble Brooke, I Fagiolini’s voices finely woven and blended with a superb subtle accompaniment from Fretwork and the organ of James Johnstone with some glorious harmonies.
I Fagiolini, Fretwork and organist, James Johnstone show themselves to be totally immersed in this distinctive composer’s music making it a terrific addition to the catalogue. They receive a beautifully balanced recording from The National Centre for Early Music, York, England and there are excellent notes from Professor Richard Rastall of Leeds University and Gavin Alexander of the University of Cambridge.