Les Canards Chantants | Two in the Bush

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Two in the Bush

by Les Canards Chantants

A vulnerable and intimate interpretation of the sacred vocal music of the Catholic underground in Reformation England, recorded by solo voices with lute and viol in a 17th-century family chapel.
Genre: Classical: Early Music
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  Song Share Time Download
1. Kyrie a 3 (William Byrd)
Les Canards Chantants, Simon Harper, Graham Bier, Robin Bier & Jacob Heringman
1:20 $0.99
2. Haec Est Dies (Thomas Byrd)
Les Canards Chantants, Robin Bier, Simon Harper, Graham Bier & Peyee Chen
2:26 $0.99
3. Gloria a 4 (William Byrd)
Les Canards Chantants, Peyee Chen, Christopher O'gorman, Robin Bier, Jacob Heringman & Graham Bier
5:02 $0.99
4. Quem Terra, Pontus (William Byrd)
Les Canards Chantants, Graham Bier, Robin Bier & Simon Harper
5:25 $0.99
5. Fantasia a 4 (Robert White) [feat. Pellingman's Saraband]
Les Canards Chantants, Susanna Pell & Jacob Heringman
3:25 $0.99
6. O Domine, Jesu Christe (Richard Dering)
Les Canards Chantants, Robin Bier, Susanna Pell, Simon Harper, Graham Bier & Jacob Heringman
3:04 $0.99
7. Adoramus Te, Christe (Thomas Jollett)
Les Canards Chantants, Simon Harper, Graham Bier, Peyee Chen & Robin Bier
2:26 $0.99
8. O Nomen Jesu (Richard Dering)
Les Canards Chantants, Jacob Heringman, Sarah Holland, Graham Bier, Susanna Pell & Peyee Chen
4:01 $0.99
9. Credo a 5 (William Byrd)
Les Canards Chantants, Jacob Heringman, Christopher O'gorman, Graham Bier, Robin Bier, Simon Harper & Peyee Chen
8:16 $0.99
10. Indica Mihi (Richard Dering)
Les Canards Chantants, Sarah Holland, Peyee Chen, Simon Harper, Graham Bier & Robin Bier
3:13 $0.99
11. Dixit Agnes Gloriosa (Richard Dering)
Les Canards Chantants, Graham Bier, Peyee Chen, Robin Bier, Simon Harper & Sarah Holland
2:05 $0.99
12. Jesu Dulcis Memoria (Richard Dering)
Les Canards Chantants, Christopher O'gorman, Graham Bier, Robin Bier, Simon Harper & Sarah Holland
2:48 $0.99
13. O Sacrum Convivium (Thomas Tallis)
Les Canards Chantants & Jacob Heringman
5:37 $0.99
14. Sanctus and Benedictus a 4 (William Byrd)
Les Canards Chantants, Robin Bier, Peyee Chen, Graham Bier, Jacob Heringman & Christopher O'gorman
3:34 $0.99
15. Salve Regina (Peter Philips)
Les Canards Chantants, Robin Bier, Peyee Chen, Simon Harper, Graham Bier & Sarah Holland
5:58 $0.99
16. Agnus Dei a 3 (William Byrd)
Les Canards Chantants, Robin Bier, Jacob Heringman, Simon Harper & Graham Bier
2:42 $0.99
17. Ave Verum Corpus (William Byrd)
Les Canards Chantants, Simon Harper, Graham Bier, Jacob Heringman, Peyee Chen & Robin Bier
3:40 $0.99
Downloads are available as MP3-320 files.


Album Notes
Subversive English Catholic Music Making after the Reformations

On 3 May 1606, in the churchyard of St Paul’s Cathedral, the Catholic priest Henry Garnet crossed himself as a noose was placed around his neck. Crowds had flocked to witness his execution; Garnet was a traitor condemned for concealing the Gunpowder Plot. He prayed to the multitude in Latin, ‘Adoramus te Christe’, ‘We adore thee O Christ, and we bless thee, for by thy cross, thou hast redeemed the world’, before he was pushed off the platform: Garnet was hanged, then quartered, and his entrails displayed for all to learn by his treacherous example on London Bridge.

Within a rare manuscript associated with a Northamptonshire Catholic network there are two four-part motets directly following the eyewitness accounts of two trials and executions. The first, ‘Adoramus te Christe’, by a composer known only as ‘Thomas Jollett’, follows an account of Garnet’s execution, and is a setting of his last words. The second motet, ‘Haec est dies’, was composed in honour of Fathers Mark Barkworth and Roger Filcock and the music imitated the call and response of the liturgical hymn they themselves had sung upon the scaffold. It was transcribed upon the page in choir-book format and it was attributed twice on the page to ‘Mr. Byrd’. I recently identified this ‘Mr. Byrd’ as William’s son Thomas, who was a student alongside Barkworth and Filcock at the English College of Valladolid in 1597. It is likely that Thomas attended the execution of his former college-friends, and subsequently composed the ‘Haec est dies’ in memoriam.

Catholic performances of sacred music like these motets and the other works in this collection were overtly political acts as much as a devotional ones, especially when the subject matter itself was dangerous. By performing music that explicitly memorialised martyrs, the act of music making was itself subversive, and could only take place in secret. The households of affluent Catholic families served as the locus for the majority of Catholic recusant activity, as well as for music-making. Some families, like the Vauxs from Northamptonshire, had their own private chapels, and others set aside particular spaces in their homes for devotion and performance, such as large lofts, and even barns where illicit services were provided for all members of their household, including servants. Evidence for such activity emerges when Catholics were caught by the authorities. For example when Lord William Vaux (1535-1595) in May 1581 was indicted for not attending the established church, he argued that his house was ‘a parish by itself’.
At Lady Magdalene Browne’s (1538-1608) family mansion at Battle in West Sussex there was lavish musical provision for Catholic services:

"she built a chapel in her house...and, to have everything conformable, she built a choir for singers and set up a pulpit for the priests...Here almost every week was a sermon made, and on solemn feasts the sacrifice of the Mass was celebrated with singing and musical instruments, and sometimes also with deacon and subdeacon. And such was the concourse and resort of Catholics ...that even the heretics... gave it the title of Little Rome."1

Another example comes from Lancashire in 1586, where the Catholic priest William Weston described how: [T]he place was most suited to our work and ministrations, not merely for the reason that it was remote and had a congenial household and company, but also because it possessed a chapel, set aside for the celebration of the Church’s offices. The gentleman was also a skilled musician, and had an organ and other musical instruments, and choristers, male and female, members of his household. During those days it was just as if we were celebrating an uninterrupted octave of some great feast. Mr. [William] Byrd, the very famous English musician and organist, was among the company...Father [Henry] Garnet sometimes sang Mass, and we took it in turns to preach and hear confessions, which were numerous.

Although we have no record of the exact pieces of music that were used on these occasions, this music making, along with the everyday activities of the faith by English Catholics, should be viewed as a form of resistance against the state church. Tallis’ setting of the Antiphon of the Feast of Corpus Christi ‘O sacrum convivium’, and William Byrd’s ‘Ave verum corpus’, encapsulate such defiance. Both hymns were meditations for Catholics on the true presence of Christ within the Eucharist, as their texts emphasise: ‘O sacred banquet, wherein Christ is received’, ‘Hail true body’. By singing these motets, perhaps even within a liturgical context, Catholics reaffirmed their belief in the real presence, in the face of Protestant denials and the practices of the established church.

Dr. Emilie Murphy

1 From the contemporary account written in 1627 by Lady Montague’s chaplain, Richard Smith, An Elizabethan Recusant House: Comprising the Life of the Lady Magdalen Viscountess Montague (1538–1608), ed. A. C. Southern (London, 1954), 41–2.

About the Project

On a grey and misty October afternoon, we were midway through a day of exploring the footpaths of North Yorkshire when we stumbled upon a sign at the end of a remote country lane that read, ‘17th Century Chapel open to the Public’. Faced with the decision between catching our train and getting sidetracked, we naturally chose the latter. The building we encountered was isolated from the modern sounds of traffic and city, and possessed of a resonant yet intimate acoustic – an intriguing location for recording the English sacred music contemporary with its construction.

As can be seen in the accounts quoted above by Emilie Murphy, this music had its own performance practice unique to the resources and conditions of Catholic worship in Post-Reformation England. Byrd’s masses have taken their place today among popular Anglican literature and are frequently heard in the cathedrals from which the Catholic faith had been evicted – far grander acoustics than those in which they found their early use. In the ambiance of the Red House Chapel, these mass movements and motets by Byrd and his colleagues unfold with a unique intimacy. The singers and instruments are daringly close-miked, exposing every grain and nuance of voice and action, and creating a visceral impression of proximity to the musicians.

Much has been written elsewhere about the sources and context of the Byrd masses, in particular Kerry McCarthy’s excellent introduction to the DIAMM facsimile. Byrd himself enjoyed remarkable freedom to publish and to work as a member of the Chapel Royal despite his Catholicism, but it was dangerous to be caught singing or even transporting his music. In one instance, a traveller was arrested in a London due to, among other things, possession of the ‘papistical’ Gradualia I (1605), which contains settings of many politically and spiritually subversive texts, including the ‘Ave verum corpus’ and ‘Quem terra, pontus’. 2 The Latin music of Peter Philips and Richard Dering arose out of a different experience to that of Byrd. Philips published his Cantiones Sacrae (1612) from exile among the English recusant community in Antwerp, having fled England in 1582 never to return. Dering was a fellow exile, publishing his Cantiones Sacrae Quinque Vocum (1617) in Antwerp as well. However, in 1625 he returned to England in the employment of Queen Henrietta Maria who, thanks to a clause in her marriage contract to Charles I of England, was permitted to hold regular Catholic services.

The two instrumental selections on this album offer a glimpse of the fluidity of performance practice for sacred vocal music at this time. Tallis’s five-voice choral setting of ‘O sacrum convivium’ occurs in lute tablature in the manuscript GB-Lbl Add. 29247 (c. 1611) alongside tablature for a number of Latin motets by Byrd and others. The tablature is lacking the top voice of the polyphony, which for this recording was intabulated by Jacob Heringman. The Robert White ‘Fantasia à 4’, from GB-Lbl Add. 29246, exists only in lute tablature for the lower three voices, and it is unknown whether the missing top line was for a singer or an untexted instrumental solo. The top line as recorded here is a conjectural reconstruction by Pellingman’s Saraband adjusted from that of Musica Brittanica. The Northamptonshire manuscript GB-Ob MS. Eng. Th. B. 2, a large collection of theological and historical information in defense of Catholicism, contains Thomas Jollet’s ‘Adoremus te, Christe’ and the controversial ‘Haec est dies’ now attributed by Emilie Murphy to William Byrd’s son Thomas 3. The Jollett was set down the page in a modified tablebook format with two voices written upside down, so that in performance the singers would stand in pairs facing each other as though in the choir within the chancel of a church. The music contains several layers of symbolism that enhance the Catholic import of the text: the word ‘crucis’ is omitted from the vocal parts but appears visually in the manuscript both as an actual cross and in cruciform divisi of parts at the moment where it should appear; an instance of augenmusik for the benefit of the singer. Furthermore, the extended alleluia which ends the piece is constructed of thirty-three repetitions of the word ‘alleluia’ across the voice parts, a double reference to the Trinity.

Back on that grey October day, we lingered overly long in the evocative little chapel at the end of the country lane, and caught our train back to York only by virtue of a desperate sprint through the fog at dusk. It was the beginning of a fruitful journey of musical discovery and experimentation, and we are delighted to share the result with you now.

Robin and Graham Bier
Directors, Les Canards Chantants

2 Kerry McCarthy, ‘Notes as a Garland’: The Chronology and Narrative of Byrd’s ‘Gradualia’. Early Music History, Vol. 23 (2004), 64.
3 Emilie K. M. Murphy, ‘Adoramus te Christe: Music and Post-Reformation English Catholic Domestic Piety’ in John Doran, Charlotte Methuen and Alexandra Walsham (eds.), Studies in Church History, Vol. 50, Religion and the Household (Woodbridge, Suffolk: Boydell & Brewer, 2014), 243.

The Slingsby Chapel at the Red House Estate

Nestled amongst forests and sheep pastures six miles upstream of York along the River Ouse, the site of the Red House Estate has supported a working manor since before the eleventh century. The Slingsby family came into possession of the manor in 1560, and around 1600 Sir Henry Slingsby I began construction of a chapel. The finished building is unusually large for a private chapel, with a spacious gallery and enough seating to accommodate far more worshipers than the approximately twenty-four members of the contemporary Slingsby household. Such an isolated and well-appointed private chapel was cause for some suspicion, especially considering that Henry had married a daughter of the Vavasours, a strong Catholic family who had long been suspected of and eventually were fined for recusancy in 1609-10. The Slingsbys consequently had some trouble getting the chapel consecrated by the Archbishop, who may have been concerned about a lack of control over how the sacraments were celebrated there. In the words of Henry’s son Henry Slingsby II, ‘we venture to have sermons in our Chapple now and then, altho’ we incur some danger if it were complain’d off, it being contrary to the orders of the Church’.4 The architecture of the chapel reflects this concern: from the north and west sides, which greet visitors today as in the seventeenth century, the building appears to be a simple barn, whereas the walls and windows facing the private house and gardens are ornate and clearly indicate a religious building. Inside is a luxurious two-story chapel complete with marble floor, stained glass windows, choir stalls and a pulpit. Now, as then, it is a secret and quiet place, disturbed primarily by the songs of birds.

4 Henry Slingsby II, The Diary of Sir Henry Slingsby, of Scriven, Bart, London (1836), 19.

About Les Canards Chantants

Praised for their “polished singing” and for “instilling their superb performances with liveliness and theatricality” (The Boston Musical Intelligencer) and for their “brilliant and moving” programming (Early Music America magazine) Les Canards Chantants is a solo-voice ensemble committed to dynamic interpretation of renaissance polyphony. Founded in England in 2011, the “singing ducks” have performed to high acclaim throughout the UK and Germany, appearing on BBC One and in venues as diverse as York Minster, The National Centre for Early Music, and Poole’s Cavern. Two in the Bush is the ensemble's debut album, and the closing chapter of their time in England. Now relocated to the USA, Les Canards Chantants are musical Ensemble in Residence at the Glencairn Museum in Bryn Athyn, PA, and are becoming a vital part of the vibrant early music scene in the Philadelphia area. Their next album, a collaboration with period-instrument orchestra ACRONYM, is the complete 1616 continuo and concertato Italian madrigals of Giovanni Valentini, to be released in spring, 2016.

About Pellingman’s Saraband

Jacob Heringman and Susanna Pell have been musical colleagues for more than 25 years and have both enjoyed distinguished careers; Jacob as a soloist and with many prominent period ensembles; Susanna as a freelance performer and member of the pioneering groups, Fretwork and The Dufay Collective. In 1999 they celebrated their marriage. Composer, Andrew Keeling, wrote a piece, Pellingmans' Saraband, to mark that occasion. They have adopted that title for their duo which explores the unique sonority of a bowed fretted instrument with a plucked one, and which sets out to bring some of the greatest music of the Renaissance and Early Baroque period to life. The duo's second CD, "Twenty waies upon the bels", was released in 2015.



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