Good Companye: Great Music from a Tudor Court
A musical journey back in time - to the world of the jesters and music makers of the royal chamber. Stately dances, gentle lute music and wistful love songs make up this programme of beautiful and elaborate sixteenth-century music from the Tudor courts of Henry VIII and Elizabeth I.
The Tudor courts were amongst the most glamorous and cultured of Europe. Henry VIII was nothing if not a showman, and he brought many musicians to court where they were encouraged to write music and perform it. The King himself was well versed in music and he also played and composed. The grace and beauty of the music he encouraged became a symbol of his authority, an authority which did not go unnoticed in the cities and courts of Europe from whence he was showered with artistic and musical gifts, some of which we have also recorded for The Gift of Music (see, for example, CDG1154). Many of the works on the present album are taken from Henry s own manuscript music collections, including his own instrumental compositions and the works by the Flemish composers Prioris and van Ghizeghem. Henry s most famous vocal work, Pastime with good companye , gives the album its title.
Poetry was as important as music at this time, and so we have included several songs in which the composers sought, above all, to express the words in simple, but artful, form. Our songs are mainly Elizabethan: Henry s daughter managed a household and court as sumptuous and elaborate as her father s, and had an ear for a good tune, favouring some composers such as William Byrd with riches and privileges, and a great deal more tolerance than she gave many of her non-musical subjects. Anthony Holborne s instrumental consort music gives the album a fine start, and we include famous songs by Rossetter and Dowland.