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More: A Musical Banquet

Program notes, continued


Daniel Bacheler (1572-1619) was one of the greatest of the Elizabethan lutenists, perhaps second only to Dowland.  Giovanni Coprario (c. 1570-1626), known variously as Cooper, Cowper, John or Giovanni Coprario, or Coperario may indeed have lived for a while in Italy.  In the suite we perform this evening, there are two violin parts (one performed here on recorder), a bass viol part, and an important independent organ part (here performed by lute in a not implausible substitution).


Robert Johnson (1583-1634) was the closest thing to an early-17th century Stephen Sondheim, providing instrumental and vocal music for both the public theaters and court entertainments. Thomas Morley (c. 1557-1602) figures prominently in many Elizabethan programs and recordings—he was one of the most influential and important musicians in an England filled with talented artists. Not working merely as a composer, he was active as something of a scholar, a pedagogue, and a successful publisher.  Here he is represented by two versions of one of his most delightful compositions. See mine own sweet jewel and Joyne Hands.  We have also included a couple of divisions, or variations on a pre-existent tune or bass pattern.  These are flashy virtuoso show pieces meant to dazzle an audience.


The German violinist, trombonist, lutenist, and composer Johann Schop (1590-1667) met English musicians at the court of Christian IV in Copenhagen and may have learned the English songs and dances like Dowland’s most famous ayre Flow, my tears there. The piece by Tobias Hume (1569-1645) is from his Poeticall Musicke of 1607, a very fine copy of which is in the collection here at the Folger Shakespeare Library.


The fact that Robert Dowland included songs by Giulio Caccini (1551-1618) in his anthology indicates his awareness of and appreciation for the latest Italian music. Caccini, a Florentine virtuoso singer and composer, was active in the circle of poets, musicians, and historians loosely known as the Camerata -- humanistic gentlemen-scholars who, in their quest to duplicate the effects of ancient Greek music, decided to do away with polyphony completely and developed a way of singing solo with a simple chordal accompaniment that could more powerfully express a poem.  Caccini’s. Amarilli mia bella was famous all over Europe and was often reprinted in various settings. Tom Zajac has elected to do his own set of divisions on the tune, modeled on the ones by the Dutch recorder player Jacob van Eyck.


—Robert Eisenstein

Robert Eisenstein

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