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Konge Af Danmark / Les Witches

Les Witches
Release Date: 07/13/2010 
Label:  Alpha Productions   Catalog #: 163   Spars Code: n/a 
Composer:  Tobias HumeSamuel ScheidtThomas SimpsonThomas Robinson,   ... 
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Les Witches
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 1 Hours 8 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews



KING OF DENMARK: Musical Europe at the Court of Christian IV Les Witches ALPHA 163 (68:30)


HUME The Duke of Holstones Delight. The Duke of Holstones Almaine. SCHEIDT Padman. Alamanda. SIMPSON Ricercar. Volte. ROBINSON Spanish Pavan. A Toy. A Playne Song. BLEYER Read more Courante. PEDERSØN Fader vor ud i Himmerig. O che soave baccio. LORENZ Vater unser im Himmelreich. SCHOP Sine titulo. VIERDANCK Canzona. MAERCKER Paduana. BORCHGREVINCK Galliard. MAYNARD A Pavin. GISTOU Paduana. Galliard


If you missed my last review of a Les Witches release ( Fanfare 32: 6), it is a French early-music ensemble of five performers including Odile Edouard (violin), Claire Michon (recorder/flute), Sylvie Moquet (alto/bass viols), Pascale Boquet (lute/theorbo), and Freddy Eichelberger (keyboard). This album retains the group arrangements but spotlights Eichelberger, performing on an organ commissioned by Duke Heinrich Julius of Brauschweig-Woflenbüttel, and finished in 1610. (Shortly after, he invited John Dowland to converse with and witness the performances of his organist, Michael Praetorius.)


A word about that organ, its life and times. The Duke was by all accounts a character-and-a-half, writing 11 plays, overseeing the completion of a canal through local marshlands, exiling all Jews from his territories, vigorously prosecuting witches, prohibiting priests from keeping mistresses, and replacing Saxon law, with its trial before nobles, with Roman law, employing legally trained jurists. He was wildly extravagant, refused to recognize the traditional merchant rights of cities in his domain, and passionately loved the arts. Strong drink Heinrich Julius loved as well, and it gave him his death in 1613, at the age of 49.


Now the Duke was married to Elizabeth, daughter of Frederick II of Denmark—who, by the way, is also believed to have drunk himself to death. This made Heinrich Julius the brother-in-law of Denmark’s Christian IV, and the latter gratefully accepted the organ as a gift from his sister in 1617, several years after the Duke’s death and shortly after she deposed her son, Frederick Ulrich, for non-stop drinking. (As you can tell, he may have come honestly by his toping from both branches of his family tree.) The instrument—1,001 pipes; inlaid silver, ivory, and ebony ornamentation, and placed in a carved cabinet made of rare woods—was carefully shipped to Frederiksborg Castle. There it was installed, and there it has remained, up through the present.


Though that organ was placed in the chapel, it was a chamber instrument: neither a positive organ (whose small size would have offended Heinrich Julius’s august sense of his own worth), nor a full-sized church organ. It was suitable for dances, something that the Duke, despite his capacity as Lutheran Bishop of Halbertstadt, had no difficulty enjoying. As much can be said for Christian IV, whose connections to the English court through his sister, Queen Anne, resulted in many English violists and lutenists emigrating temporarily. Curiously, though Dowland spent eight years in Christian’s service, the galliard he wrote and named after his patron was not included in this collection. Folk-inspired dances by other musicians in the Danish king’s employ are, among them singers John Maynard and Nicolas Gistou, lutenist Thomas Robinson, cornettist Matthias Maercker, and violist Thomas Simpson. Contrast is provided by the inclusion of such pieces as a five-part arrangement of the chorale Fader vor ud i Himmerig, and an instrumental version of the madrigal O che soave baccio , both by Mogns Pedersøn, whom Christian sent to serve Queen Anne.


This is the fifth album by Les Witches: everything played expertly, with an ear to contrasting tempos, textures, mood, and rhythms in successive pieces. The addition of the Frederiksborg organ lends a distinct series of bright colors in solo works and ensemble to the music-making on this album, though it’s not the first time that intimate instrument has been recorded—a blend of selections heavily favoring the Protestant sacred music of its time and place was previously released on Dacapo 8.224057. Aside from Scheidt’s popular Alamanda, I prefer it here in ensemble work, where its protean but distinctive sound at times resembles a krumhorn or a musette rather than an organ.


Engineering is excellent, forward and exceptionally balanced between the five performers. There is no recourse to that bane of early-music performance, an over-reverberant hall that kills counterpoint. Definitely recommended.


FANFARE: Barry Brenesal
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Works on This Recording

1. Captaine Humes Poeticall Musicke: Duke of Holstones Delight by Tobias Hume
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Les Witches
Period: Renaissance 
Written: by 1607; England 
Date of Recording: 07/2008 
Venue:  Frederiksborg Castle, Hillerod, Denmark 
Length: 2 Minutes 59 Secs. 
2. Ludi musici: Paduan à 4 by Samuel Scheidt
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Les Witches
Period: Baroque 
Date of Recording: 07/2008 
Venue:  Frederiksborg Castle, Hillerod, Denmark 
Length: 6 Minutes 41 Secs. 
3. The first part of ayres: no 6, The Duke of Holstones Almaine by Tobias Hume
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Les Witches
Period: Renaissance 
Written: by 1605; England 
Date of Recording: 07/2008 
Venue:  Frederiksborg Castle, Hillerod, Denmark 
Length: 1 Minutes 35 Secs. 
4. Taffel-Consort: no 20, Ricercar "Bonny sweet Robin" by Thomas Simpson
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Les Witches
Date of Recording: 07/2008 
Venue:  Frederiksborg Castle, Hillerod, Denmark 
Length: 3 Minutes 31 Secs. 
5. Spanish Pavan for lute by Thomas Robinson
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Les Witches
Period: Baroque 
Written: Spain 
Date of Recording: 07/2008 
Venue:  Frederiksborg Castle, Hillerod, Denmark 
Length: 2 Minutes 34 Secs. 
6. Courant by Nicolaus Bleyer
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Les Witches
Date of Recording: 07/2008 
Venue:  Frederiksborg Castle, Hillerod, Denmark 
Length: 1 Minutes 38 Secs. 
7. Volta by Thomas Simpson
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Les Witches
Period: Renaissance 
Written: England 
Date of Recording: 07/2008 
Venue:  Frederiksborg Castle, Hillerod, Denmark 
Length: 1 Minutes 25 Secs. 
8. Fader vor Gud i Himmerig (God Our Father in Heaven), hymn by Mogens Pedersán
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Les Witches
Date of Recording: 07/2008 
Venue:  Frederiksborg Castle, Hillerod, Denmark 
Length: 1 Minutes 27 Secs. 
9. Vater unser im Himmereich, hymn by Johann Lorenz Bach
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Les Witches
Date of Recording: 07/2008 
Venue:  Frederiksborg Castle, Hillerod, Denmark 
Length: 4 Minutes 31 Secs. 
10. Sine titulo by Johann Schop
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Les Witches
Period: Baroque 
Written: 17th Century 
Date of Recording: 07/2008 
Venue:  Frederiksborg Castle, Hillerod, Denmark 
Length: 3 Minutes 58 Secs. 
11. O che soave baccio, madrigal by Mogens Pedersán
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Les Witches
Date of Recording: 07/2008 
Venue:  Frederiksborg Castle, Hillerod, Denmark 
Length: 3 Minutes 29 Secs. 
12. Canzona No. 21 in C major by Johann Vierdanck
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Les Witches
Period: Baroque 
Date of Recording: 07/2008 
Venue:  Frederiksborg Castle, Hillerod, Denmark 
Length: 4 Minutes 2 Secs. 
13. A Toy by Thomas Robinson
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Les Witches
Period: Renaissance 
Written: England 
Date of Recording: 07/2008 
Venue:  Frederiksborg Castle, Hillerod, Denmark 
Length: 1 Minutes 48 Secs. 
14. A Plaine Song by Thomas Robinson
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Les Witches
Period: Renaissance 
Written: England 
Date of Recording: 07/2008 
Venue:  Frederiksborg Castle, Hillerod, Denmark 
Length: 2 Minutes 5 Secs. 
15. Bruyns Medelyn by Samuel Scheidt
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Les Witches
Period: Baroque 
Written: 17th Century; Halle, Germany 
Date of Recording: 07/2008 
Venue:  Frederiksborg Castle, Hillerod, Denmark 
Length: 7 Minutes 57 Secs. 
16. Paduana for consort by Matthaus Maercker
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Les Witches
Date of Recording: 07/2008 
Venue:  Frederiksborg Castle, Hillerod, Denmark 
Length: 3 Minutes 34 Secs. 
17. Galliard by Melchior Borchgrevinck
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Les Witches
Period: Renaissance 
Date of Recording: 07/2008 
Venue:  Frederiksborg Castle, Hillerod, Denmark 
Length: 2 Minutes 41 Secs. 
18. Pavane for consort by John Maynard
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Les Witches
Date of Recording: 07/2008 
Venue:  Frederiksborg Castle, Hillerod, Denmark 
Length: 4 Minutes 55 Secs. 
19. Paduana by Nicolas Gistou
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Les Witches
Period: Renaissance 
Written: 1609 
Date of Recording: 07/2008 
Venue:  Frederiksborg Castle, Hillerod, Denmark 
Length: 3 Minutes 54 Secs. 
20. Galliard by Nicolas Gistou
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Les Witches
Period: Renaissance 
Written: 1609 
Date of Recording: 07/2008 
Venue:  Frederiksborg Castle, Hillerod, Denmark 
Length: 3 Minutes 34 Secs. 

Sound Samples

The Duke of Holstones Delight
Paduan: Ludi musici:
The Duke of Holstones Almaine
Taffel-Consort: No. 29. Ricercar, "Bonny Sweet Robin"
Spanish Pavan
Courante
Taffel-Consort: Volte
Fader vor ud i Himmerig
Vater unser im Himmelreich
Sine titulo in D minor
O che soave baccio
Canzona
A Toy (version for 2 lutes): A Toy
A Plaine Song
Alamanda, SSWV 558 (arr. for chamber ensemble)
Paduana
Galliard
A Pavin
Paduana
Galliard II

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