Following a Gramophone Award for The Spy's Choirbook, Alamire's next project - Anne Boleyn's Songbook - is already receiving universal critical acclaim. Reviews of our recent sold out performances at the Sam Wanamaker Playhouse in Shakespeare's Globe, London, were posted by The Arts Desk and Planet Hugill. A feature also appeared on ITV News at Ten, while Classic FM ran an article featuring video clips of our rehearsals and samples from the CD, as well as a thoughtful report by Ivan Hewitt in The Telegraph.
ITV News at Ten
We are delighted to announce that The Spy's Choirbook has received the coveted Gramophone Early Music Award for 2015. The ceremony will take place in London on 17 September in St John's Smith Square.
For further information see: http://www.gramophone.co.uk/awards/2015/early-music
Anne Boleyn is famously the the most notorious of Henry VIII’s six wives. She was brought up in France and for a time was under the guardianship of Margaret of Austria, who was patron some of the most famous composers in all of Europe. It is here where the young Anne developed her keen musical tastes, and when a collection of her favourite works began to be assembled into what is now known as the Anne Boleyn Songbook (Royal College of Music, MS 1070). The book probably remained in her possession until her execution in 1536, when she was wrongfully accused by Henry’s council of adultery with no less than five men (one being her brother, George). Another of the accused was Mark Smeaton, her music tutor and lutenist, who may have had a hand in including some of the love songs in the book.
Here Alamire explores motets and chansons by the greatest composers of the early 16th century, including Compere, Mouton, Brumel, and Josquin. Performances by Alamire are interspersed with French chansons and instrumental items for lute and harp from the songbook. Also included in the programme is a haunting setting of ‘O death rock me asleep’, the text of which is thought by some to have been written by Anne while awaiting her fate in the Tower of London.
RECORDING IN ARUNDEL AND HEVER CASTLES, MAY 2015.
Alamire Press Office
The Spy's Choirbook reaches No. 2 in the Official Classical Charts in the first week of release.
GRAMOPHONE EDITOR'S CHOICE (January 2015)
"...what we have here is a complete recording of the entire choirbook in its manuscript order: 34 four-voice motets from the first decade of the century by French and Franco-Flemish composers, giving a magnificent panorama of the repertory. Most of them have never been recorded before ... sounding gorgeous throughout." - David Fallows
"Teasing title, glorious music: the first complete recording (on two CDs) of all 34 pieces in a gloriously illustrated manuscript presented to Henry VIII by Petrus Alamire, a famous scribe, composer, diplomat, engineer and (allegedly) double-agent. The history is fascinating; so is the fabulous music, a tour d'horizon of early 16th-century polyphony, sonorously delivered by the choir Alamire and the English Cornett and Sackbut Ensemble under David Skinner."
THE TIMES (5 Stars) - Richard Morrison
"The performances are meticulous, the sound rich, and the effect often sumptuous."
THE GUARDIAN (4 Stars) - Andrew Clements
David Skinner & Alamire recently toured the USA headlining the American Choral Directors' Association Western Division 50th Anniversary Conference in Santa Barbara, before travelling on to Indianapolis and Lubbock.
David also gave a key-note lecture at ACDA on the ‘Origins of the English Choral Tradition and how the English Sing’ before the group gave two back-to-back performances to a packed house in the historic Santa Barbara Mission ‘Music and the Reformation in the 16th Century; Via Anglica’ including works by Lambe, Taverner, Tallis & Byrd.
Tallis Psalter: Psalms and Anthems, Canticles, Preces and Responses is the first complete edition of the Psalter, allowing, for the first time in centuries, a performance within the Anglican liturgy. Also in this volume are Tallis’s surviving English anthems, including popular works such as If ye love me and Hear the voice and prayer, and lesser-known miniatures such as A new commandment and Purge me, O Lord, the evening Dorian Service, and Preces and Responses for five voices.
The original Psalter contains Thomas Tallis’s nine tunes set to metrical verses by Archbishop Matthew Parker, and published in around 1567.Many of the tunes have since been reworked as popular hymns, while Ralph Vaughan Williams famously used the Third Tune as the basis for his Fantasia on a Theme by Thomas Tallis.
‘It has long been my ambition to edit the Tallis Psalter for modern liturgical use, and, having performed them all with my own chapel choir in Cambridge, they certainly live up to expectation. All of the tunes are utterly infectious, and I'm not surprised that they have been so widely adapted for other uses. The added bonus of including all of his surviving English anthems in a single, practical edition promises that these superb works can be enjoyed more widely than ever before. The Dorian Service and Preces & Responses for five voices complete the set, and provide all the necessary ingredients for Choral Evensong featuring the music of Thomas Tallis.’ - David Skinner
Novello & Co.: http://www.musicroom.com/se/id_no/01070227/details.html
The Trinity Carol Roll (Trinity College, Cambridge, MS O.3.58) is the earliest source for the English polyphony carol. The thirteen works preserved in this manuscript include the patriotic ‘Agincourt’ carol, celebrating Henry V’s victory over the French in 1415, and the most famous of all early English carols ‘Ther is no rose’. The performances on this recording offer a fresh take on medieval instrumentation, and include the gothic harp, psaltery, plectrum lute, recorder and the etherial gemshorn, while the recording itself took place in the Wren Library in Trinity College, Cambridge.
The CD is released in September 2012, and will also be available on iTunes or via Amazon.
"... music of outstanding quality ... luminous timbre ... the purity of tone and accuracy of tuning throughout this programme are about as fine as I have ever heard ... a sumptuous wash of sound that is at the same time highly intelligible ... beautifully produced." Andrew O'Connor (International Record Review)
"... exquisitely performed ... David Skinner negotiates these expansive, arching textures with poise and insight ... breathtaking" - Anthony Pryer (BBC Music Magazine)
"Alamire's singing approaches perfection" - Stephen Pettit (The Sunday Times)
"Alamire bring a real fervour to their singing ... radiates assurance ... [they] bring tremendous conviction ... everything about this release exudes quality ... I loved every minute of it." - John Quinn (MusicWeb International)
"Alamire are on top form … each syllable is clear, clean and translucent … it has as much life and verve as it does gentle sophistication … strongly recommended" - Mark Sealey (Classical.net)
Germany's top agent for early music ensembles - Erika Esslinger Konzertagentur - has recently signed Alamire for events in Germany from 2012. Look out for us in Nurnberg and Stuttgart very soon!