Court Jesters (CD)

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Sirinu: Sarah Stowe, Jon Banks, Henry Stobart, Matthew Spring

The Early Music ensemble Sirinu performs a stunning collection of the brightest highlights chosen from music written and inspired by King Henry VIII’s jesters and minstrels.  The jesters, also known as fools, were among the personal servants of the King’s retinue, with access to his Privy Chamber.  Some, such as Will Somers, and the harpsichordist Mark Smeaton, were also his personal friends and confidants. Total time: 63:00 “Instead of concentrating on the commonly heard groupings of love songs and plaintive ballads, these four musicians also offer a generous look at the grittier, earthier side of 16th century life. The sound, from St Georges Church, Cambridge, is perfectly suited to the voices and instruments, capturing the widely varying timbres in fairly close-up, vivid detail.” David Vernier – Classics Today

One of the main themes of the Griffin label catalogue will be ‘ages of music’, from early Christian chant through the Middle Ages, the Renaissance, the Tudors and the Stuarts later. There were two sides to Henry VIII’s musical employ-one was the trained musicians, the professional Court Composers such as Cornysh and Van Wilder, and the other consisted the “fools” or jesters who were comedians and popular singers, always at hand for the right mood, and some of whom became personal friends and confidants. This album focuses on the populist side, and features instrumental pieces, including of course, dances, and street ballads. 26 tracks display a lively variety of popular Court music as it might have been heard at Hampton Court or elsewhere in an afternoon after matters of State (and lunch in Henry’s case!) had been settled for the day. The selection includes pavans, almains, jigs and La Volta in dances, “broadside” ballads, fantasias and love songs, plus Henry’s own composition.

Ensemble Sirinu travel the world recreating this entertainment, also recording for Chandos. They consist of Sarah Stowe, Jon Banks, Henry Stobart, Mathew Spring and Jon Banks directs.

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  1. Wolsey’s Wilde - Trad.
  2. And I were a maiden - William Cornysh
  3. My lady Carey’s Dump - Anon
  4. The Night Watch - Anthony Holborne
  5. I besherew you - William Cornysh
  6. Carol - Anon
  7. Eliza is the fairest Queen - Edward Johnson
  8. Medley
  9. I am a Jolly Foster - William Cornysh
  10. Votre trey dowce regaunt - Anon
  11. We be three poor mariners - pub. Thomas Ravenscroft
  12. Pavan
  13. Tarleton’s Riserrectione - John Dowland
  14. The Poor People’s Complaint - Trad.
  15. New Oysters Street Cries - pub. Thomas Ravenscroft
  16. “Le Pied de Cheval “ - Almande
  17. Arthur’s Dump - Philip van Wilder
  18. Hoyda, jolly Rutterkin - William Cornysh
  19. Say Love, if ever thou did’st find - John Dowland
  20. Daunce - Anon
  21. Westron Wind 
  22. Fantasia - William Byrd
  23. Blow thy horn hunter - William Cornysh
  24. La Volta - William Byrd
  25. Pastime with good company - Henry VIII
  26. Tudor Dance Tune - Medley Trad