CD A0307: Greensleeves

Music for Recorder and Harp
Bill Taylor |
Harps - Geert Van Gele | Recorders

CD Cover: GreensleevesBill Taylor and Geert Van Gele are the founding members of Quadrivium, but as a duo they have been performing together all around the globe for almost 10 years, bringing the different historical harps and recorders to their audiences.

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Artist profile & catalogue of works - Bill Taylor

Track Listing & Audio Samples

Music for Recorder and Harp, by Geer Van Gele and Bill Taylor

1.  Mit ganczem Willen wunsch ich dir - Conrad Paumann(1452)
2.  Ellend du hast
3.  Wilhelmus Legrant
4.  Par le regard de vos beaux yeux -
     Guillaume Dufay (1397-1474) and Buxheimer Orgelbuch (c1470)
5.  Provings:
     Profiad cyffredin
     Pwnc ar ol pob profiad
     Y ddigan y droell
     Cainc Ruffudd ab Adda ap Dafydd - Robert ap Huw MS (c.1623)
6.  Falla con misuras (La Bassa Castiglia) - Gugliemo Ebreo (1463)
7.  Bel fiore danca - Faenza Codex (c. 1420)
8.  Ave Maris Stella - Francisco Fernandez Palero (d. 1597)
9.  Passamezzo I & II - Intabolatura nova di...balli (1551)
10. Venetiana Gagliarda
11. Defiled is my name - Robert Johnson (c. 1500-c. 1560)
12. Port - Straloch MS (1627)
13. Ah Robin, gentle Robin - Henry VIII MS (c. 1518)
14. Consort II
15. Consort V
16. Consort VIII
17. Puzzle canon V
18. Vestiva i colli - Francesco Rognoni Taeggio (1620)
19. Paul's Steeple - The division Flute (1706)
20. Greensleeves - The Division Flute

Notes & Credits

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Corina Paumann (c.1410-1473) was a blind organist and composer whose gravestone declares him "the most ingenious master of all instruments and music" and shows him surrounded by instruments. That the harp and recorder are two of those instruments may indicate that he played them, as well as the organ. He was a keen improviser, and his intabulations are as beautiful as they are virtuosic. These pieces were originally didactic pieces, taken from his composition manual Fundamentum Organisandi.

Par le regard de vos beaux yeux appears as a composit rondear, incorporating both the original three-voice chanson by the great Burgundian composer Guillaume Dufay and two different contemporary intabulations found in the Buxheimer Orgelbuch.

The manuscript of  Robert ap Huw contains music composed by Welsh harp players in the 14th and 15th centuries. The same bray harp favoured by the German and Franco-Flemish composers, with its buzzing strings, was also the high-art instrument of 15th century Wales. A suite of profiadiau or "provings" presents several minatures, which may have been used as exam pieces within the Welsh bardic curriculum. Profiad cyffredin translates as the "common profiad"; Pwnc ar ol pob profiad as the "Pwnc after every profiad"; Y ddigan y droell as the "Harmony ab Adda ap Dafydd as the "Cainc (or musical strain) of (the 14th-century poet) Gruffudd ab Adda ap Dafydd.

Two Italian bassadanza tunes follow. Falla con misuras, with its cantus firmus of La Spagna, comes from De practica seu arte tripudi vulgare opusculum by Guglielmo Ebreo da Pesaro (c.1429-? after 1484). Bel fiore danca is found in the Faenza Codex, which, along with the Buxheimer Orgelbuch, was one of the most important sources of instrumental music in the 15th century. The bassadanza was characterised by elegant steps low to the ground, as opposed to the more vigorous leaping steps employed in the saltarello.

Francisco Fernandez Palero was for many years an organist at the royal chapel in Granada. The solo tenor recorder first plays the Gregorian hymn Ave Maris Stella, and is joined by the harp in a modal accompaniment. Palero's delicate setting follows. Much of the music in 16th century Spain was published for tecla, arpa & vihuela - for keyboard, harp and vihuela. With a strong tradition of harps playing during the mass in Spanish cathedrals, it is likely that such a duo of harp and recorder might well have played this in Palero's day.

Intabolatura nova di varie sorte de balli was published by Antonio Gardane in 1551 and includes popular dance tunes of the day: passamezzos, galliards, pavans and saltarellos. The passamezzo was a quick dance in duple metre, named pass'e mezo in Gardane's index. It may come from passo e mezzo, meaning "a step and a half". Passamezzo I & II heard here are settings of the "passamezzo moderno", and follow the pattern I-IV-I-V-I-IV-I-V-I. Agalliard, such as the Venetiana Gagliarda, requires five steps (cinq pas) within six beats, and gives rise to the term "syncopation". Hemiola rhythms are often used near the cadences.

Defield is my name is found in a four-voice setting by Robert Johnson, a Scottish preist as well as composer who fled to England in the wake of the Reformation, to the court of Henry VIII. The poem has traditionally been linked to Anne Boleyn, Henry's second wife, but this has since been discredited. Strong and defiant, the poet yearns for justice.

The word port is simply Gaelic for "tune". However, the term seems to have originally applied to ancient melodies played on the lute and the clarsach- the wire-strung Highland harp.They are curious tunes, sometimes unresolved, sometimes angular, and sometimes comic. The unnamed Port comes from the Straloch lute manuscript, one of the few collections of Scottish renaissance instrumental music.

There is no question that music was very important in the court of Henry VIII. The king employed almost sixty musicians, whose names and instruments are listed in court records, including players of viols, sackbuts, flutes, recorders, lutes, virginals and rebecs. Certainly, Henry greatly enjoyed music; he sang, danced and was known to play the organ, the virginals and the lute. The Henry VIII manuscript includes many pieces composed by him, some with and some without texts. The plaintive song Ah Robin, gentle Robin is followed by several instrumental consorts, and concludes with a charming canon.

Palestrina's setting of Ippolito Capilupi's poem Vestiva i colli was published in 1566. Subsequent reprintings of his books of madrigals and motets helped to spread his fame. Francesco Rognoni Taeggio's 1620 virtuosic setting is an excellent example of his own conviction, as expounded in his treatise, Selva de varii passaggi, that beautiful singing should express foremost the text, not excessive ornamentation.

Paul's Steeple is a lively dance tune, which appears in John Playford's first edition of The Dancing Master(1651). The tune dates from just before the Great Fire of London in 1666, and its ongoing popularity was no doubt enhanced by Christopher Wren's magnificent restoration of St. Paul's. The Cathedral precinct was a gathering place for social as well as religious activity, as we discover in James Strutt's Sports and Pastimes of the People of England (1801). He gives an account of rope dancing from the battlements of St.Paul's, before the King Edward VI, as he passed in procession through the city of London, in 1546.

Greensleeves is one of the most famous melodies ever composed. It is based on an Italian renaissance ground, the passamezzo antico or the virtually identical romanesca, having the form III-VII-i-V-III-VII-i-V-I. The tune is likely Elizabethan in origin, and was not written by Henry VIII, as is so often assumed. The text first appears in 1580 as A New Northern Dittye of the Lady Greene Sleeves. The song continued to be extremely popular throughout the 16th and 17th centuries, and is presented as a dance tune in the seventh edition of Playford's Dancing Master(1686).

Both versions of Paul's Steeple and Greensleeves performed here come from The Division Flute, which provides players and listeners with a delightful set of variations, in the same way that the Intabolatura nova and the Buxheimer Orgelbuch in earlier times offered examples of how to improvise on a good melody.

Bill Taylor.




Alto in G a set of six with cylindrical boring, in either Pythagorean or mean-tone tuning, based on late-medieval examples. Builder : Bob Marvin, Maine, USA, 2000 - Tracks 1,2,3,4,6,7.
Alto in G based on the design as described in La Fontegara by Sylvesto Ganassi (1535). Builder : Bob Marvin, Maine, USA, 1991 - Tracks 10, 15.
Tenor in C based on the design by Wolleck, late 16th century. Builder : Bob Maine, USA, 1992 - Tracks 8,9,11,13,14,16,17.
Alto in G based on the design by Bassano, late 16th century. Builder : Bob Marvin, Maine, USA, 1995 - Tracks 18,19,20.

Gothic harp, 24 gut strings with brays, based on the painting "The Garden of Earthly Delights" by Bosch (c.1505-10). Builder : Rainer Thuraru, Wiesbaden, Germany, 1987 - Tracks 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10.
Wire-strung clarsach, 26 brass strings. Builder : Ardival Harps, Strathpeffer, Scotland, 2005 - Tracks 11,12,13,14,15,16,17.
Renaissance bray harp, 29 gut strings. Builder : David Brown, Baltimore, USA, 1992 - Tracks 18,19,20.

Recording - Kattenberg, Borgerhout (BE) Oct 31, Nov 1, 2005
Production, editing & Mastering - Geert Van Gele
Research and notes - Bill Taylor
Design - Hans De Cock
Our special thanks to - MIM Brussels

This recording is issued by Kattenberg Recordings, Kattenberg 43, 2140 Borgerhout, Belgium
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Album Information

Title:     Greensleeves
Artists: Bill Taylor & Geert Van Gele
Instruments:     Harp and Recorder
Genre: Early Music
Format: CD
Our Ref: A0307
ISBN 8 715440 004687
Label: Kattenberg Recordings
Year: 2009
Origin: UK

Artist Information & Contact Details

Duo Van Gele / Taylor
recorder - harp

From the late 14th- through the 17th century, the slender, gut-strung renaissance, or "Gothic harp," with its distinctive buzzing bray pins, was heard all over Europe. Tiny L-shaped crooked pegs known as bray pins held the strings into the sound box and also lightly touched them, causing the strings to buzz as they were plucked. Bray harps are frequently depicted in period paintings, often played by musician angels. Research has shown that the Gothic bray harp was THE most common harp for several hundred years, until the development of the large multirow baroque harps--which makes it all the more striking that bray harps are almost never heard today! William Taylor has played a key role in bringing the unique sound of this ancient harp to modern audiences. Another little-known historical harp featured in concerts of the Duo Van Gele - Taylor is the resonant wire-strung "clarsach" -- the ancient Irish harp.

The recorder is a wind instrument with a history almost as long as that of the harp. It has a natural singing quality which makes it perfect for the medieval and renaissance repertoire (that was often vocal in origin). During the baroque period, many works were composed specifically for the recorder, which was particularly beloved as a solo instrument, capable of brilliant, fast passagework, as well as stirringly beautiful melodies.

The intimate character of recorder and harp together is ideal for bringing out the delicacy and liveliness of this early chamber music repertoire. The duo Van Gele/Taylor performs on a unique collection of copies of historical harps and recorders made by the world's leading builders. Performances are accompanied by engaging, historically-informed commentary.

Contact Bill Taylor via his web site:

Contact Geert Van Gele via his web site:

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