The Colonial Williamsburg Governor's Musick | Instrumental Music from the Colonial Williamsburg Collection

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George F. Handel Karl F. Abel Wenceslaus Wodiczka

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Instrumental Music from the Colonial Williamsburg Collection

by The Colonial Williamsburg Governor's Musick

A broad range of program selections has been chosen for this early music recording to highlight the extraordinary musicianship of Darling, Marshall, Bushee and Watson. They convey, for new listeners and old, the delightful music of colonial Virginia.
Genre: Classical: Early Music
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  Song Share Time Download
1. Duetto in F Major, Op. 14, No. 2, For Piano Forte: I. Allegro
4:01 $0.99
2. Duetto in F Major, Op. 14, No. 2, For Piano Forte: II. Allegro assai
4:35 $0.99
3. Trio Sonata in F Major, HWV 389, Op. 2, No. 5 For Alto Recorder, Violin, And Continuo: I. Larghetto
1:50 $0.99
4. Trio Sonata in F Major, HWV 389, Op. 2, No. 5 For Alto Recorder, Violin, And Continuo: II. Allegro
2:53 $0.99
5. Trio Sonata in F Major, HWV 389, Op. 2, No. 5 For Alto Recorder, Violin, And Continuo: III. Adagio
1:59 $0.99
6. Trio Sonata in F Major, HWV 389, Op. 2, No. 5 For Alto Recorder, Violin, And Continuo: IV. Allegro
2:07 $0.99
7. Trio Sonata in F Major, HWV 389, Op. 2, No. 5 For Alto Recorder, Violin, And Continuo: V. Allegro
2:21 $0.99
8. Sonata in D Major for Transverse Flute and Harpsichord Obbligato, Op. 2/2: I. Un poco vivace
4:12 $0.99
9. Sonata in D Major for Transverse Flute and Harpsichord Obbligato, Op. 2/2:: II. Giga
2:46 $0.99
10. Three Airs: I. The Lass of Pattie's Mill
0:51 $0.99
11. Three Airs: II. Over the Hills and Far Away
0:48 $0.99
12. Three Airs: III. Wally Honey
1:10 $0.99
13. Trumpet Tune in C Major, Z653, Op. 1, For Harpsichord
0:49 $0.99
14. Air in D Minor, Zt 676, Op. 1, For Harpsichord
1:19 $0.99
15. Ground in C Minor, Zd 221, Op. 1, For Harpsichord
2:30 $0.99
16. Riggadoon in C Major, Z 653, Op. 1, For Harpsichord
0:44 $0.99
17. Sonata in D Major, Op. 1, No. 4, For Violin and Continuo: I. Adagio
2:54 $0.99
18. Sonata in D Major, Op. 1, No. 4, For Violin and Continuo: II. Allegro
2:15 $0.99
19. Sonata in D Major, Op. 1, No. 4, For Violin and Continuo: III. Giga
1:52 $0.99
Downloads are available as MP3-320 files.


Album Notes
Instrumental Music from the Colonial Williamsburg Collection

Colonial Williamsburg, the restored eighteenth-century capital of Virginia, has few rivals as a history teacher today. The antiquity of the restored city, its buildings, gardens, streets, and lanes, its many pleasing sights, sounds, and smells, its reminders of great men doing great deeds for the cause of liberty—these hallmarks of America’s favorite outdoor museum capture visitors’ imaginations and command their senses. Popular among museum programs is the active presentation and performance of period music on an extensive collection of original instruments.
A wealth of letters, newspapers, and other documents from the eighteenth century tells us that music held an honored place in the lives of colonial Virginians. Still very much His Majesty’s subjects, the colonists had a lively interest in the latest gossip, fashions, and artwork from London and eagerly sought news of musical events as well as copies of compositions.
Indeed, Williamsburg resident Philip Ludwell Lee wrote his brother William in London that he preferred sheet music over newspapers, if William were not able to send both.
Other documents recount numerous individual and ensemble performances given in Williamsburg. There were evidently enough professional musicians in Virginia for the St. Cecilia Society of Charleston, South Carolina, that colony’s oldest musical organization, to advertise for orchestra members in a July 1771 edition of the Virginia Gazette.
Beyond question, many people in the colonies received a considerable degree of musical training. Williamsburg’s Lieutenant Governor Francis Fauquier, who had known George Frideric Handel in London, invited amateur musicians to join him for weekly ensembles, with young Tom Jefferson making up one of their number. Occasionally Virginia tavern keepers kept an instrument or two on hand for the use of their customers. One advertisement for a traveling companion who could care for horses added that “if he can play French horn it would be more agreeable.”
Children received the best musical instruction that was available. Quite often they were given magnificent, and expensive, instruments on which to perform. Most of these fine instruments were imported from London or the Continent.
Written sources tell us what instruments these early Virginians used and the compositions they played, but it is not until we hear these pieces performed as they would have been two hundred years ago that we can truly understand their impact on those long-ago listeners. A Handel sonata played on an eighteenth-century flute or harpsichord in an intimate chamber setting provides a different auditory experience than the same piece performed on modern instruments in a modern concert hall.
That we can still hear such authentic renditions is part of Colonial Williamsburg’s rich legacy. Today, eighteenth-century instruments are preserved and displayed in the DeWitt Wallace Decorative Arts Gallery, a modern museum facility exhibiting a wide variety of English and American objects dating from the seventeenth century through nineteenth centuries. The gallery’s absolute control of the environment is critical to instrument preservation. Musical instruments respond best to constant temperature and humidity, which permits them to be maintained in playing condition more easily without threat of deterioration.
The instruments are often beautiful to look at, but they fulfill their true function only when they are played and heard. To this end, Colonial Williamsburg maintains a staff of professional musicians devoted to studying and perfecting the proper playing techniques of these early instruments. They regularly hold public concerts in the gallery’s 240-seat auditorium as well as in other areas at Colonial Williamsburg. Performances can be enjoyed in such historic buildings as the Governor’s Palace, Wren Chapel, and the Capitol.
Interestingly enough, a certain amount of playing by qualified musicians helps maintain an instrument’s tonal response.
The quest to establish correct methods and techniques of performing late baroque and early classical music has been challenging. At the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation, authenticity and common sense are the major yardsticks by which our public presentations are measured. Yet not only do we wish to provide listeners with a historically correct performance; it is our hope that they will have a thoroughly enjoyable experience. With both these goals in mind, a broad range of program selections has been chosen for this recording, one that will convey, for new listeners and old, the delightful music of colonial Virginia.

Notes on the Pieces

CLEMENTI—Duetto in F Major
Many musicians from the European continent settled in London for the practical reason that they could earn their living in the thriving city. Muzio Clementi became one of the most successful as a performer and later seller of keyboard instruments. A popular virtuoso, he wrote extensively for the developing pianoforte that superseded the harpsichord at the end of the eighteenth century. With great imagination, Clementi exploited its different sonorities and dynamic possibilities. The “Duetto in F Major” appeals because of its joyous theatricality with vivacious lilting themes and scintillating passage work. An unexpected touch of genius occurs at the expertly realized diminuendo conclusion. Duets were played in Williamsburg, and compositions of this type survive in the music of Ann Barraud, who lived on Francis Street after the Revolution.

HANDEL—Trio Sonata in F Major
An Italianate sense of warmth pervades Handel’s “Trio Sonata in F Major.” From the pastoral opening movement to the tarantella-like driving jig dominated by parallel thirds in the upper parts, the composer re-creates the spirit of the Italian countryside, not with the capricious flights of fancy of Antonio Vivaldi but with the structured motivic unity of Arcangelo Corelli. Handel met Corelli on his Italian visit, 1706-1710, and the latter led the orchestra for the young German’s spectacular oratorio La Resurrezione. The brief but emotional third movement adagio contrasts superbly the affective colors of the delicate recorder and the gut-strung baroque violin. The succeeding fugue exhibits masterfully Handel’s polyphonic skill with effortless facility.

ABEL—Sonata in D Major
Originally keyboard parts in sonatas were improvised from a given bass line, often with figures to indicate the harmony. Each player interpreted the basso continuo according to his ability and taste. Johann Sebastian Bach was among the first to write obbligato keyboard parts where every note was written out. The “Sonata in D” for flute and harpsichord by Karl Friedrich Abel follows the later practice. In each movement, the keyboard announces the primary thematic material. The flute enters a few measures later with its own subjects and the instruments work together thereafter. Abel’s gallant style typifies rococo sentiment and anticipates Mozart. The composer was active in London, where he worked with Bach’s son Johann Christian in presenting a series of popular concerts. The one-key transverse flute projects more powerfully than the sweet recorder and replaced it in both solo and orchestral music.

The walking stick flute must be considered a distinct novelty. Nevertheless, the example in the Wallace Gallery has excellent quality of tone. Popular tunes, two of which occur in The Beggar’s Opera, demonstrate its capabilities and charm.

PURCELL—Four Keyboard Pieces
Henry Purcell composed many short keyboard tunes published in popular anthologies like The Second Part of Musick’s Hand-maid (1689) and A Choice Collection of Lessons for the Harpsichord or Spinnet (1696/99). Colonial Williamsburg’s rare spinet by Edward Blunt, an apprentice of Stephen Keene, was completed in 1700 and is just the sort of instrument for which these pieces were intended.
Each demonstrates Purcell’s extraordinary melodic talent, a miraculous combination of instinct and art. “A New Ground” combines a flowing ornamental melody from the ode “Welcome to All the Pleasures” over a repeated broken chord harmonic pattern. Since the phrasing of the tune contradicts the harmonic repetition, the listener is virtually unaware of the technical craftsmanship and succumbs to the perfection of the music.

WODICZKA—Sonata in D Minor
That Thomas Jefferson should possess and probably play the violin sonatas of a minor Bohemian composer like Wenceslaus Wodiczka testifies to the musical curiosity of the “Sage of Monticello.” Published in both Paris and London, these compositions circulated widely and sound delightful. The “Sonata in D Minor” begins with an elegant adagio melody over figured bass. Strong rhythmic contrasts highlight the succeeding allegro, while the concluding jig demonstrates the technical skill and finesse of the baroque bow in eighteenth-century triplet passagework.
This is not easy music, and one cannot expect Jefferson to have performed it in public, although he may well have read it over and tried it in the privacy of his home to gain some idea of its style and character.


Duetto in F Major, Opus XIV, No. 2, for Piano Forte
By Muzio Clementi (1752-1832)
[1] Allegro [2] Allegro assai
Pianoforte by John Broadwood and Sons (1806)
Thomas Marshall and James Darling

Trio Sonata in F Major, Opus II, No. 5, for Alto Recorder, Violin and Continuo
By George Frideric Handel (1685-1759)
[3] Larghetto [6] Allegro
[4] Allegro [7] Allegro
[5] Adagio
Alto recorder by Urquhart (1710-1740)
Violin by Nathaniel Cross (ca. 1727)
Harpsichord by Jacobus Kirckman (1762)
Herbert Watson, Kevin Bushee, and Thomas Marshall

Sonata in D Major for Transverse Flute and Harpsichord Obbligato
By Karl Friedrich Abel (1723-1787)
[8] Un poco vivace [9] Giga
One-key Flute by Richard Potter (1770-1785)
Harpsichord by Jocobus Kirckman
Herbert Watson and James Darling

Three Airs
[10] The Lass of Pattie’s Mill
[11] Over the Hills and Far Away
[12] Wally Honey
Walking Stick Flute, Anonymous (1775-1825)
Herbert Watson

Four Keyboard Pieces
By Henry Purcell (1659-1695)
[13] [Trumpet Tune]
[14] Air
[15] A New Ground
[16] Riggadoon
Spinet by Edward Blunt for Stephen Keene (1700)
James Darling

Sonata in D Minor, Opus 1, No. 4, for Violin and Continuo
By Wenceslaus Wodiczka (1715?-1774)
[17] Adagio [19] Giga
[18] Allegro
Violin by Nathaniel Cross
Kevin Bushee and Thomas Marshall

The Original Instruments

With its emphasis on English eighteenth-century musical practices, Colonial Williamsburg is fortunate to own an unaltered violin from 1727 by Nathaniel Cross. Few baroque instruments contain as many original elements as this instrument. The scroll, neck, fingerboard, tailpiece, bass bar, and pegs are all original. It is conjectured that Cross studied with Stainer and mastered the German builder’s high arching; however, the broadness across the bouts, short blunted corners, deep purfling, and well-defined scroll create a unique aesthetic statement. About 1720 Cross entered into practice with Barak Norman, one of the most celebrated English craftsmen, and it is said that Cross’s best instruments date from this period. They reflect the rich and sweet tonal qualities so highly prized in Norman’s work.

A 1762 two-manual harpsichord by Jacobus Kirckman is considered to be one of the outstanding masterworks in the collection. Containing two eight-foot registers, one four-foot string, and a lute stop, the instrument possesses the full-bodied sonority that made English instruments famous. At the same time, each register has a notable sweetness appropriate to the rococo style. Long exhibited and played in concerts in the ballroom of the Governor’s Palace, it has been removed to the Wallace Gallery, where it is maintained in optimum atmospheric conditions. Harpsichords by Kirckman were found in colonial Virginia, Jefferson’s instrument at Monticello being a noteworthy example.

A fine bentside spinet inscribed Stephanus Keene, London, 1700, is the oldest of the English keyboard instruments in the Wallace Gallery. A hand-written inscription on the last treble key reveals that it was built by Edward Blunt in the last year of his apprenticeship. The case is made of walnut with decorative hardwoods and floral marquetry over the keys. The beech stand appears to be original.
The compass of four and a half octaves from GG to d3 is typical of this type of instrument. The lowest two sharps are divided in half, producing the normal short octave. The bass notes A and B are played at the front with C-sharp and D-sharp behind. The spinet has been strung in brass wire according to original practices. This produces a rich, vibrant tone in so small an instrument, making it ideal for playing the suites and lessons of Purcell and his contemporaries. Many spinets were shipped to the American colonies, and anthologies of music like The Harpsichord or Spinnet Miscellany of Robert Bremner, available in facsimile from Colonial Williamsburg, were owned by Washington and Jefferson.

An outstanding grand pianoforte by John Broadwood dated 1806 has been specially restored for the Wallace Gallery. With an oak case with mahogany veneer and a variety of secondary woods, it is most handsome to view and its sound enthralls the listener. The treble register in particular comes through with strength and clarity against the rich bass sonorities characteristic of these instruments. The pedals are of special interest since they differ from those of the modern piano. The right pedal controls the dampers of the treble keys and the center pedal controls the bass, making it possible for the performer to use them independently. This effect was used by Beethoven and other composers of the classical period. The left pedal shifts the keys from three strings to two or from three strings to one—the true una corda—as determined by a slider at the right of the keyboard. Having superseded the harpsichord by its ability to produce different dynamic levels by the weight of the touch, the piano continued to develop the course of the nineteenth century. Hearing a fine early example like this one gives a completely new aesthetic appreciation to early piano music from what is experienced with the twentieth-century concert grand. One of the first pianofortes in Williamsburg was owned by Lord Dunmore, the last royal governor.

Three contrasting flutes are heard on the recording. The oldest is an alto recorder in F by Urquhart, an English or possibly Scottish maker from the first half of the eighteenth century. Pitched at a’ 415, its style and conformation seem to reflect the instruments of Pui Bressan, a renowned French master who settled in London about 1720. Known as English flutes in early times, recorders “in sundry sizes” were sold at the post office in colonial Williamsburg.
The newer transverse, or German, flute commonly appeared in the British colonies. The Wallace Gallery exhibits several examples by Richard Potter, who made many improvements to the instrument in the course of his career. The one heard, a transverse flute in D, is made of boxwood with ivory fittings and one ivory key. Its high pitch level of a’ 430 may indicate that it dates from the end of the eighteenth century. Although a number of keys were added to subsequent instruments, it would appear that the one-keyed flute continued in popularity.
The walking stick flute in D by an anonymous builder may be considered a real novelty. Containing a brass ferrule at the lower end, it could in fact be carried and used by a fashionable gentleman. Surprisingly, it has a lovely tone, soft and sweet. It survives in excellent condition although lacking a key for D-sharp.

The Musicians

Four performers from the Colonial Williamsburg musical staff are heard. All four use early playing styles in order to recapture the essence of the sounds of the antique instruments.

James Darling, organist and choir-master of Bruton Parish Church since 1961 and harpsichordist and musical consultant to the Foundation, has participated in the research and development of musical activities. A graduate of music schools at Yale and the University of Michigan, he has given recitals in many parts of America and has played for important visitors to Williamsburg, including four United States presidents.

Thomas Marshall, a one-time student of Mr. Darling has achieved a recognized artistic status in his own right. Holding degrees from James Madison University and the University of Michigan, he is an authority on performance techniques and is also an expert tuner and technician of harpsichords. The preparation of the keyboard instruments here has been his responsibility. Young’s temperament has been used in general except for the Keene spinet, which was tuned in modified meantone.

Herbert Watson studied at Old Dominion University and has made the playing of wooden flutes a life’s work. Both English flutes, called recorders today, and German transverse flutes were played in eighteenth-century Williamsburg. The study and application of early fingering and phrasing lends to the musical charm of these deceptively simple instruments.

Kevin Bushee brings to the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation a specialist’s training in baroque violin style from Oberlin Conservatory. Eighteenth-century bowing methods differ markedly from many modern techniques and constitute one of his particular interests.

Instrumental Music from the Colonial Williamsburg Collection reflects painstaking attention to the performance techniques of colonial players. It offers important insight into the music appreciation of early Americans.
Visitors to Colonial Williamsburg’s Historic Area or to the DeWitt Wallace Decorative Arts Gallery in Williamsburg have the opportunity to hear these instruments played. For those who cannot hear them in person, this recording is a welcome substitute.
To preserve and reproduce the natural tone and textures of the instruments, Colonial Williamsburg’s audio engineers used digital recording technology for the first time on this release. Digital mastering allows the nuances of character to be heard as if the listener were present with the performers.

Richard L. McCluney, Jr.
Executive Producer

Michael L. Puckett

James Survil
Assistant Engineer

James S. Darling
Musical Director/Notes

Helen Mageras
Art Director

Donna Sheppard
Suzanne E. Coffman
Notes Editors

Warren Winchester

All income from the sales of this recording is used for the purposes of The
Colonial Williamsburg Foundation, which operates the Historic Area of
Williamsburg, and to carry forward its educational programs. Colonial
Williamsburg also welcomes tax-deductable contributions. Friends interested in
discussing gifts to the Foundation are asked to write the President, The Colonial
Williamsburg Foundation, P.O. Box 1776, Williamsburg, Virginia 23187-1776.

©1987 by The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation



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