Projects

The Night With… Ensemble 1604

A mixed programme of early music and contemporary music in three sets.

Set 1

  • Lascatemi qui solo: Francesca Caccini
  • Movements from Sonata no. 1 in D minor: Élisabeth Jacquet de la Guerre
  • O Deathe Rock Me Asleep: anon.

The mood of this set is dark and sombre. In each of the pieces there is a sense of sorrow that gives the pieces in this set a shared feeling of grief. This is summed up in the final work of the set O Deathe Rock Me Asleep which some have attributed to Anne Boleyn, suggesting she wrote the words as she awaited execution in the Tower of London. The text is haunting, expressing the misery of the subject but also an acceptance and longing for peace.

Set 2

  • Flow My Teares: John Dowland

Our version of John Dowland’s lute song is based on the Pavane Antiquae from his Seven Teares. The music is highly emotive, filled with longing and melancholy sadness, which is so typical of the music of the English Renaissance particularly from the Elizabethan era.

  • …shadows that in darkness dwell

for counter tenor, recorder, theorbo baroque cello and electronics

The darkness of Elizabethan melancholy, the prevalent mood of an age. Shadows. Dark figures. Emerging, expressing longing, grief and suffering.  Moments of peace glimmer momentarily. The prevailing darkness and foreboding mood swallows these fragments of light dragging us down into the depths of sorrow and longing.

I imagine the character of John Dowland, a reclusive and private man with a mysterious past: as a musician in the court of the Danish King, Dowland was also working as an English spy. Dark, shadowy and melancholic the ensemble inhabits a labyrinthine sound world that explores the mood and feeling of Dowland’s sombre set of Seven Teares figured in Seven Passionate Pavanes. This isn’t a piece about subterfuge but one that explores the very darkest depths present in Dowland’s work through a heightened approach to performing on period instruments. Dowland’s work is represented in an extended exploration of the mood and sentiment of the text in three main passages titled Flow, Fled and Darkness.

Set 3

  • In Nomine: William Byrd
  • In C:  Terry Riley

In this set you will hear two works that harmonically centre or circle around the note C. Byrd’s In Nomine is a beautiful piece with delicately weaving melodies that sound stunning on this combination of instruments. It acts as the perfect prelude for Terry Riley’s minimalist classic.

Our approach to Riley’s work is to bring the poise and playfulness of early music performance to his joyful work. Made up of 53 small melodic ideas a performance of in C is a slow reading through of these where we languish on each phrase. The performance slowly evolves as each of us takes the lead to push forwards at different times.

In performance the players approach the shaping of the melodic cells with the playful character of early music performance. The live electronics provide a shimmering rhythmic bed, and elegant drones.

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