CATHEDRAL CHURCH of St MACHAR, OLD ABERDEEN
THE THIRD IN A SERIES OF FOUR AUTUMN CONCERTS
‘MUSIC OF THE GOLDEN AGE’
RENAISSANCE SCOTTISH MUSIC
FEATURING ROBERT CARVER, DAVID PEEBLES & JHON BLAK
SOLOISTS & FULL CHOIR
D. JAMES ROSS MBE: Director
GORDON TOCHER: Organ
ROBERT WALLACE & DIAN UNDERWOOD: Viols
CATH NIVEN: Recorders
D. JAMES ROSS: Recorders & Chalumeau
Much of the music in today’s concert highlighting Renaissance Scottish Music is the result of years of research and discovery by D. James Ross and others including the late Dr Kenneth Elliot. As D. James Ross writes in his informative accompanying programme note, ‘the surviving choral and instrumental music of Renaissance Scotland probably represents only a pinhole camera perspective on a golden age of composition’. The more extreme proponents of the protestant reformation were, somewhat like some of today’s Islamists, not just unwilling to preserve what had gone before in music art and writing, but were keen to seek out and destroy manuscripts of which they did not approve. Thus what has come down to us has often some surprising back stories. The first work in today’s concert, the Processional Laudate pueri from The Inverness Fragments (c 1550) ‘survived by sheer chance as stuffing in the binding of a law book’.
Ross has himself used his background knowledge of musical style and history to reconstruct a three and four part performing version which we were favoured to hear today in St Machar’s Cathedral. As Dr Roger Williams said in his introduction, this could be singing that was last heard in the cathedral hundreds of years ago.
Musick Fyne opened their performance from the rear of the Cathedral. As they sang, they processed to the front where the rest of the performance was to take place. The female voices opened the performance followed by passages of rich full choral singing. The harmonies had something of the flavour of later Scottish church music.
The second group of pieces in the concert included motets by Walter Frye taken from the Scottish Carver Choir-
The instrumental ensemble Coronach, viols and recorders, performed two pieces by the Aberdeen composer Jhon Blak. His name is spelled in different ways so could we now just call him John Black? Anyway I have heard this music in several very different performances including on organ by Dr Roger Williams but today’s performance was absolutely delightful and particularly well balanced, more so perhaps, dare I say, by the vocal soloists?
Si quis diligit me by David Peebles brought together the full choir and instrumental ensemble including Gordon Tocher on organ. This was a wonderfully rich and highly coloured performance.
Two more pieces by Jhon Blak were Musick Fyne and Sir Jhon Black (notice the change in spelling in this title). These were every bit as full sounding and enjoyable as his earlier pieces and featured the chalumeau, a kind of predecessor of the clarinet, played by D. James Ross.
This led to the main highlight of the performance the Gloria from the Mass ‘Cantate Domino’ attributed to Robert Carver. Once again we come face to face with the difficulties regarding absolute certainty as to the composer of the music. It was certainly a wonderfully rich and vibrant performance of a very fine piece of music.
|The Cathedral Community|
|Prayer and Meditation|
|Friends of St Machar|
|Churches by the Don|
|Opportunities to Help|
|School and Group Visits|
|The Heraldic Ceiling|
|Organists of St Machar|
|Bells of St Machar|
|Graveyard and Outside|
|The History of the Choir|
|Events at Dunbar Hall|