This week The Cardinall’s Musick has seen some heavy rotation on my Spotify. They are a UK based ensemble that, like many early music groups, is scholarly in their recordings of 16th and 17th century music. They mostly record with Hyperion – a label I love – but sadly Hyperion isn’t on any of the streaming services. (Hey @hyperionrecords – you might want to add that to your to-do list – just sayin’). They have one recording on Spotify from before they were exclusive to Hyperion, and it stuck out at me because of who is listed on the cover – Andrew Carwood (their director) and David Skinner, who I have written about before. The ever-prolific Dr. Skinner is also a founder of Alamire, another group that gets Spotify-love from me (cuz they aren’t on Hyperion – I have a real beef with Hyperion not being on Spotify, but that’s a personal issue).
Here’s a random fact about Andrew Carwood though – in 2007 he was appointed the director of music for St. Paul’s Cathedral – the first non-organist to hold the position since the 12th century. When I first read that on wikipedia, I thought it must be questionable since I didn’t even know there were organs in the 12th century. But apparently Ctesibius of Alexandria, Egypt, a musician and engineer who lived around 200 B.C., is credited with building the first pipe organ, the hydraulic. He employed a system using water pressure to regulate the pressure that may have been pumped by a windmill. Those crazy Egyptians.
Anyway, something really random I learned today was a bit of a PR stunt that the Archbishop of Canterbury pulled in the 1560’s. In the1540’s, composers in England started setting texts from the Book of Psalms to music. But they were all in Latin at that point. In 1567, Matthew Parker, the Archbishop of Canterbury under Queen Elizabeth, translated the Psalter into English verse (the original is available to look at through the internet archive). He published it with the inclusion of nine “Tunes,” which had been composed by Tallis, with the idea that with this collaboration the Psalms could be sung rather than merely spoken. Well played, Mr. Parker. Well played, indeed.
The Cardinall’s Musick has recordings of all of these psalms on a recording available on Amazon, or you can download their albums directly from the Hyperion website. And you can listen to some of them free youtube – lots of groups have recorded them. Here’s a video of, again, David Skinner’s group performing the third tune (he’s like a whack-a-mole – he just seems to pop up everywhere).
Fasincating stuff, and I’m so glad I came across it.