In Celebration of the Human Voice - The Essential Musical Instrument
Jeremy Summerly is Head of Academic Studies at the Royal Academy of Music in London. As well as a conductor and lecturer he is a writer / presenter for BBC Radio and an editor for Faber Music. He graduated from Oxford University with First Class Honours in Music and thereafter undertook musicological research at King's College, London, while also working as a Studio Manager for BBC Radio. He founded the Oxford Camerata in 1984 and between 1990 and 1996 he was conductor of Schola Cantorum of Oxford. He has conducted over forty commercial recordings of music spanning nine centuries and he made his conducting debut at the BBC Proms in 1999 and at the Berlin Philharmonie in 2005. He has given concert tours throughout Europe and the United States as well as in Israel, Japan, Indonesia, Hong Kong, South Africa, and Botswana. He has conducted Ligeti for Ligeti, Kagel for Kagel, and Part for Part.
In 1995 he was a recipient of a European Cultural Prize from the European Association for the Encouragement of the Arts (Basel, Switzerland) and in 2007 he was made an honorary associate of the Royal Academy of Music in London.
Displaying 1-10 of 10 items.
Review: Just the fabulous treble voices of the Oxford Camerata sing the important 16th century collection of Finnish songs known as 'The Piae Cantiones'. In 1592, exactly three hundred years before the founding of the modern Finnish musical establishment, the headmaster of Turku Cathedral School compiled and edited a collection of 74 songs which he entitled 'Piae Cantiones' (Devout Church). As a protestant he was at odds with the catholic publisher and this religious tension is evident throughout. The melodies originated at various times and features songs up to five parts. The song now known as Good King Wenceslasis is most enjoyable and this all a cappella recording is certainly interesting. The beautiful, uniform purity of sound the singers achieve make this recording an essential addition to any collection.
Songlist: Aetas Carmen melodiae, Parce Christus spes reorum, Tempus adest floridum, Resonet in laudibus, Cedit hyems eminus, Personent hodie, Jesu dulcis memoria, In dulci jubilo, Florens juventus virginis, Jermiae prophetae, Ave maris stella, Puer natus in Bethlehem
Review: The Oxford Camerata was formed to meet the growing demand for choral groups specializing in Renaissance music. Now comprised of 12 mixed voices Camerata has since expanded its repertoire to include music from the medieval period to the present day. Jeremy Summerly founded the Oxford Camerata after studying music at New College, Oxford, graduating with 1st Class Honors in 1982. 'English Madrigals' is divided into 4 sections, 'Early Tudor Songs,' ('Pastime with good company,' attributed to Henry VIII, 'Blow thy horn, hunter,' by Wm. Cornish, and 'Hey trolly lolly lo'); 'Madrigals from the Golden Age' ('Draw on, sweet night' and 'Weep, Weep Mine Eyes,'' by John Wilbye, Richard Carlton's 'Sound Saddest Notes' and Robt. Ramsey's 'Sleep, Fleshly Birth'); and 'Romantic Songs and Partsongs,' (Robt. Pearsall's 'Lay a garland,' Somerset's 'The trees they do grow high,' and Charles Stanford's 'The Blue Bird'). Nice liner notes booklet with all the lyrics and group info. Camerata's music soars in perfect, effortless harmony!
Songlist: Pastime with good company, Blow thy horn, hunter, Ah Robin, gentle Robin, Hey Trolly Lolly Lo, Draw on, Sweet Night, Thule, the Period of Cosmography, Weep. Weep Mine Eyes, As Vesta Was, Sound Saddest Notes, Fair Phyllis, Sleep. Fleshly Birth, Mother, I will have a Husband, Lay a Garland, Rigg Fair, The Trees They do Grow High, The Blue Bird
Review: Without doubt the music written by the prince of Verona is some of the most macabre yet outlandishly fantastic music ever written. The famous unprepared chromatic side steps remain decidedly unnerving even to a devoted Second Viennese School. The effect of the chromatic spirals is often vertigo inducing but also deeply moving and ultimately awe-inspiring. This is truly sublime music by a neglected genius. The performances here are amongst the very best available of Gesualdo's music - at any price. This would be a perfect place to start exploring this bizarre but inspired musical universe.
Songlist: Illumina faciem tuam, Deus refugium et virtus, Exaudi Deus deprecationem meam, Tribulationem et dolorem, Tribularer si nescirem, Precibus et meritis beatae Mariae, O Crux benedicta, O vos omnes, Dignare me laudare te, Maria mater gratiae, Laboravi in gemitu meo, Ave dulcissima Maria, Domine ne despicias, Peccantem me quotidie, Sancti Spiritus Domine, Hei mihi Domine, Venit lumen tuum Jerusalem, Reminiscere miserationum tuarum, Ave Regina coelorum
Riu riu chiu
Review: In 15th-century England a tradition grew up for the composition of polyphonic carols. None of them is ascribed to a specific composer or poet, neither is their function completely understood. The form is that of alternating verses and burdens (refrains), the language generally being a mixture of Latin and English. The majority of the carols have sacred texts and it is possible that these were designed for liturgical use. Others are moralistic or celebratory and were possibly used to enliven feasts and banquets in aristocratic households or for recreational purposes at educational establishments. This CD is (along with the selection of songs from the Piae Cantiones) the Camerata's smallest-scale recording project. Only four voices are used throughout (Rebecca Outram, Deborah Mackay, Philip Cave, and Jeremy Summerly) although one of the tracks does also involve Jeremy Summerly playing the tambourine! The Christmas spirit was well captured by arranging to record this CD in December in sub-zero temperatures. The project attracted much attention and ulitmately resulted in the milennial publication of a volume of medieval songs and carols by Faber Music entitled Passetime with good company!
Songlist: Ave Maria, What Tiding's Bringest Thou, O Virdissima Virga, Alma Redemptoris Mater, Deo Gracias Anglia, Be Merry Be Merry, Riu Riu Chiu, There Is No Rose, Planctus Guillelmus, Eya Mater Stephane, Gaudate Christus Est Natus, Hail Mary Full Of Grace, Now We May Singen, Nowell Sing We, Planctus David
Review: It is doubtful whether any of the composers represented on this recording would have had an understanding of the term 'masterpiece' (let alone the term 'Renaissance') when applied to their own music. Similarly, it is unlikely that any of these composers would have considered themselves composers in the sense in which we now understand the word. The Renaissance musician was regarded as more craftsman than artist. Moreover, all of the music recorded here is entirely functional: it was all designed to be used within a living Latin liturgy; it had no other purpose. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but it may also be in the mind of the creator, and when composer and performer seem to perceive beauty within the same gesture (although separated by hundreds of years) we may be tempted to describe a work as masterly. In the Nunc dimiltis, for instance, Josquin's anonymous imitator may lack the technical refinement of his mentor, but the product is sincere and moving. Similarly, Thomas Morley's subsequent adaptation of Rogier's Laboravi in gemitu meo evidently reflects a contemporaneous respect for this beautifully-paced motet. And while King Joao IV may have been a discerning musical patron, he was neither a prolific nor great composer; however, Crux fidelis achieves a depth of emotion that was as recognizable to J. S. Bach as it must have been to King Joao's own subjects. Byrd's Laudibus in sanctis is the only concrete example on this recording of the composer giving a particular work his own seal of approval: its position at the head of the 1591 Cantiones sacrae proves that Byrd himself regarded this motet highly, and the fact that it now enjoys unreserved critical acclaim is comforting.
Songlist: Intemerata Dei mater, Nunc dimittis, Magnificat (Octavi toni), Surrexit pastor bonus, Laboravi in gemitu meo, Ego flos campi, Si ignoras te, Lauda mater ecclesia, Vadam et circuibo, Laudibus in sanctis, Crux fidelis
Review: O quam gloriosum and O magnum mysterium are both early motets, published in 1572, and are amongst the best loved in his output. Written for the feasts of All Saints and the Circumcision respectively they both lend themselves well to adaptation into 'parody' Masses. Material in O quam gloriosum for instance comes in easily delineated sections which can be lifted entire - Victoria particularly likes the motive on 'quocumque ierit' which ends several sections of the Mass; he does however leave the startling first three bars of the motet completely alone. Why Victoria should have been so fond of the parody technique in general (only one of his twenty Masses is free-composed) is difficult to say - a clue may lie in the fact of his republishing many of his old works in new volumes, and he is unusual among contemporaries in having almost all of his output published in his lifetime. He was not altogether the otherworldly innocent he made out. But Victoria was far from just a talented, functional composer. The intensity of works such as Ardens est cor meum has led to frequent comparisons with another child of the Counter-Reformation, El Greco. Adapting the words of Mary Magdalene when she discovers the tomb empty on Easter morning, it translates into a personal plea for spiritual revelation. This passionate style is also evident in Versa est in luctum by Alonso Lobo, a Spanish contemporary and regarded as an equal by Victoria. It was written for the funeral of Phillip II of Spain, and sets a movement from the Requiem Mass.
Songlist: Ave Maria, Missa O magnum mysterium:, -Kyrie, -Gloria, -Credo, -Sanctus, -Agnus Dei, -O magnum mysterium, Missa O quam gloriosum, -Kyrie, -Gloria, -Credo, -Sanctus, -Agnus Dei, -O quam gloriosum, -Ardens est core meum, Alonso Lobo: Versa est in luctum
Review: The early 1580s marked an important change in the sacred music of William Byrd, just as they did in the history of Catholicism in England. Many of the Latin motets of the 1580s, collected in two volumes of Cantiones sacrae, set words about the Babylonian Exile, charged with penitential ecstasy. These are non-liturgical works - indeed the text of Infelix ego draws on the Bible only indirectly through the pen of savonarola. The words, written as that Catholic puritan demagogue awaited execution in Florence, reflect on his own personal guilt and the redemptive pity of God. They stimulate Byrd's wide technical resources, from two- and three-part writing to complex six-part polyphony to dramatic homophony, the whole reminiscent of the vast Marian antiphons of Christopher Tye or William Mundy. By contrast, the Mass settings are compact and controlled. They belong to a later period, when Byrd's response to his circumstances had changed from the impassioned to the practical; the Gradualia represent an attempt to set music for the entire Catholic liturgy, and the Masses may have been linked to the same project.
Songlist: Mass for Four Voices:, -Kyrie, -Gloria, -Credo, -Sanctus, -Agnus Dei, Infelix ego, Mass for Five Voices, -Kyrie, -Gloria, -Credo, -Sanctus, -Agnus Dei
Review: In 1978 Schola Cantorum of Oxford-the university's acclaimed chamber choir-recorded Tippett's Five Negro Spirituals from A child of our time. Sir Michael wrote, in his sleeve note accompanying the LP release on L'Oiseau Lyre (DSLO 25, re-issued on CD Belart 461 628-2, no longer available): 'I had never heard the complete set till the recording sessions. I then realised that the sound of these songs when sung thus is quite different from their original settings in the oratorio. They became, as it were, the huge voice of a crowd of folk singing together. It should be clear from the above account of all the variety of pieces on this [all-Tippett] disc how remarkable and resilient a group of young singers the Schola Cantorum of Oxford is, under their equally young, gifted conductor Nicholas Cleobury.' Some twenty years later, under Jeremy Summerly, the choir was asked to make a new recording of the Spirituals to mark the ninetieth birthday of the composer, by then the group's long-standing Patron. This new disc-never previously released-is the result of those sessions, where the Tippett works are complemented by recordings of the winning entries in an international composition competition organized by the choir and other works written for it around the same time. And what an astonishing display of choral pyrotechnics this produced. From the seductive intricacies of Mark Edgley Smith's E E Cummings settings, through the blues-infused harmonies of Antony Pitts's polychoral Thou knowest my lying down, to the extended genius of Francis Pott's Amore langueo (containing what Summerly describes as 'one of the great moments in English choral music from any period'), this new disc offers fascinating discoveries to the choral aficionado and seventy minutes of the very finest choral experience to all. All works, apart from the Tippett and Pitts, are first recordings.
Songlist: Thou Knowest My Lying Down, Steal Away, Ave Verum Corpus, Nobody Knows, Echo, Song, Mirage, Go Down, Moses, Now I Lay (With Everywhere Around), Spring! May, Love Is More Thicker Than Forge, O By The By, What A Proud Dreamhorse, By And By, Eres, Deep River, Amore Langueo
Review: Elizabeth I, Fair Oriana, was one of the most remarkable monarchs in English history: she was well educated, strong, fearless and wise. Towards the end of her reign a musical anthology entitled The Triumphs of Oriana was assembled in order to flatter and divert her. Four superb works from this anthology - plus a fifth, Oriana's Farewell - provide a delightful sequence of madrigals in celebration of the Virgin Queen. This collection of masterpieces from England's Golden Age was published to celebrate the golden jubilee of her namesake, Elizabeth II.
Songlist: Long Live Fair Oriana, Hark, Did Ye Evere Hear?, Fair Oriana, Come, Blessed Bird, Oriana Farewell
Review: A fascinating collection exploring the musical riches from a most colorful period, the Middle Ages. Reflecting the atmosphere of a time where disease and sudden death were counterbalanced by faith and 'joie de vivre', this volume contrasts sacred settings such as the ever-popular Gaudete Christus Est Natus and previously unpublished Jesu Dulcis Memoria with such medieval secular classics as Sumer Is Icumen In, Agincourt Carol and the celebratory Passetime With Good Company.
Songlist: Gaudete Christus Est Natus , Jesu Dulcis Memoria , Sumer Is Icumen In, Agincourt Carol, Passetime With Good Company, Coventry Carol
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