The Royal Wind Music directed by Paul Leenhouts
CD – “Sweete Musicke of Sundrie Kindes”
Lindoro NL-3023, 2014
Music by William Byrd, John Coprario, John Dowland, James Harding, Anthony Holborne, Thomas Tallis and others
In the 1530s the Bassano brothers of Venice were recommended to the court of King Henry VIII (1491-1547) as musicians, composers and instrument makers. The Bassanos founded a consort of five recorders, being joined in 1550 by Augustine Bassano (d.1604) to form a six-member consort that was manned principally by their offspring until the unification of wind consorts into one group in the 1630s.
The repertory of this ‘royal recorder consort’, which inspires this CD, consisted of fantasias as well as dances and instrumental arrangements of motets and madrigals. The consort, as Augustine Bassano specified in a document from 1564, was ‘bounden to give daily attendance upon the Queen’s Majesty’. Consorts provided entertainment and music for a wide variety of court activities, and provided occupation for many professional musicians and composers.
In the theatre, where consort music was frequently performed, instrumentation would often be used according to symbolic associations of particular instruments. The soft and sweet sound of flutes or recorders, occasionally referred to as ‘still music’, suggested to symbolise scenes linked to supernatural events or sometimes death.