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Philips: Complete Organ & Keboard Works Vol 2 / Rampe


Release Date: 02/19/2008 
Label:  Md&g (Dabringhaus & Grimm) Gold Catalog #: 3411435   Spars Code: n/a 
Composer:  Peter Philips
Performer:  Siegbert Rampe
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
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Notes and Editorial Reviews

Peter Philips often referred to himself as English, but in the English musical landscape of around 1600 he was something of an outsider. He was Catholic, which made his position as a musician rather difficult, but unlike most other Catholic English composers he left the country, and worked on the continent, mainly in the Southern Netherlands, which were under Spanish rule and therefore Catholic. Another specific feature of Philips is his acquaintance with Italian music - for instance Palestrina, Anerio and Marenzio - which is reflected in his own compositions.

The exact date of his birth is not known, but from his certificate of residence in Brussels one can conclude that he has been born in 1560 or 1561. The first trace of
Read more Philips' musical activities is in St Paul's Cathedral in London, where he sang as a choirboy. He seems to have been a pupil of William Byrd. In 1580 he composed his first piece of music, a pavan which was later included in the Fitzwilliam Virginal Book. In 1582 he fled the country, travelled to Brussels and then to Rome. Here he was under the protection of Cardinal Alessandro Farnese, and acted as an organist of the English College. From 1585 he travelled through Europe with another English refugee, Lord Thomas Paget. The Pavana Pagget and Galiarda (vol. 2, tracks 13/14) may have been written at the occasion of his death in 1590. In 1591 Philips settled in Antwerp, where he was teaching the keyboard, married and established relations with key figures in society. Although he lived and worked on the continent and never returned to his native country, his music was known in England, as the English poet and writer Henry Peacham testifies in 'The Compleat Gentleman' (1627): "Hee hath sent us over many excellent Songs, as well Motets as Madrigals; he affecteth altogether the Italian veine."

In particular his vocal works were very popular and were frequently printed. In his sacred works he gradually moves from the 'prima prattica' to the 'seconda prattica' as his motets with basso continuo show. Unfortunately not very much of his vocal music has been recorded. His keyboard works has fared a little better, but Siegbert Rampe nevertheless thought it necessary to record the entire output for keyboard on two discs. His recording also contains those pieces whose authenticity has not as yet been established.

Philips' acquaintance with Italian music which Henry Peacham referred to is not only reflected in his vocal output but in his keyboard works as well. A look at the tracklists is sufficient to see traces of that: many pieces are based on material from madrigals and motets by Italian composers. In addition he uses pieces by Lassus, the most famous continental composer of the late 16th century. In comparison the number of works which are rooted in the style of the English virginalists is rather limited. There is only one piece which is based on a lute song (Galliarda in g minor; vol. 2, track 5), but otherwise they consist mainly of pairs of pavans and galliards. Some of them belong to the best ever written, like the Pavana and Galliarda Dolorosa (vol. 1, tracks 3/4). These, and his other keyboard works, support Henry Peacham's view that Philips was "one of the greatest Masters of Musicke in Europe".

One of the most interesting aspects of these recordings is the choice of instruments. Most striking is the use of a clavichord, an instrument which is very seldom used in this kind of repertoire. In the booklet Siegbert Rampe argues: "Scholars have recently found that not only the intabulations, but other keyboard compositions as well were intended to provide material for teaching improvisation on the clavichord or pedal clavichord - the latter being the normal instrument for teaching and practising the organ at the time. This is indicated by the fact that the keyboard compass of the works mostly begins at D or C in the bass and never exceeds a" in the treble. With the single exception of Fece da Voi a. 6, the same applies to Philips' keyboard music." The clavichord used at that time is not comparable with the clavichord mostly used in the 18th century, which is first and foremost associated with the style of the Empfindsamkeit (Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach and others). Here two types of clavichord are used, both described by Michael Praetorius (1619), which are different from each other in sound and character.

Rampe also uses a harpsichord, the oldest playable Ruckers which is still almost in its original state, and a virginal by Artus Gheerdinck, built in Amsterdam in 1605, which is entirely in its original state. In addition two organs are used. The first is one of Germany's most famous historical organs, in the St Stephen's Church in Tangermünde, built in 1623/24. The other one is situated in Soest/Ostönnen, and was assumed to date from the early 18th century. Fairly recently it was discovered that about 80 percent of the pipework and six of the eight registers date from the 15th century, which makes it one of the oldest playable organs in the world. All the instruments are tuned in a mean-tone temperament of some sort, whereas the organ in Soest is referred to as being tuned "after Arnold [sic] Schlick (1512)".

I have greatly enjoyed this recording. Siegbert Rampe plays very well, even though I sometimes feel his performance tends to be a little too academic - more so on the first than on the second disc. There is enough variety in the programme to keep the listener's attention. One of the greatest delights of this project is the use of different instruments and their superb quality. One of the things one has to consider is the strong difference between them: it needs a little time for the ears to switch from the loudness of the organ and the harpsichord to the much softer and more sensitive sound of the clavichords. Maybe it would be a good idea to programme the tracks according to the instruments used.

With these two discs Siegbert Rampe has erected a monument to Peter Philips' skills as a composer and player of the keyboard. It is to be hoped that it will stimulate other musicians to give proper attention to other aspects of his oeuvre.

-- Johan van Veen, MusicWeb International
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Works on This Recording

1.
Amarilli by Peter Philips
Performer:  Siegbert Rampe (Keyboards)
Period: Renaissance 
Written: 1603; England 
2.
Fantasia in G major by Peter Philips
Performer:  Siegbert Rampe (Keyboard)
Period: Renaissance 
Written: England 
3.
Ecco l'aurora Luca Marenzio à in G by Peter Philips
Performer:  Siegbert Rampe (Keyboard)
Period: Renaissance 
Written: England 
4.
Pavana Anglica by Peter Philips
Performer:  Siegbert Rampe (Keyboard)
Period: Renaissance 
Written: England 
5.
Liquide perle amor (Luca Marenzio) in G by Peter Philips
Performer:  Siegbert Rampe (Keyboard)
Period: Renaissance 
Written: England 
6.
Passamezzo Pavana by Peter Philips
Performer:  Siegbert Rampe (Keyboard)
Period: Renaissance 
Written: England 
7.
Madrigal Horatio Vechi by Peter Philips
Performer:  Siegbert Rampe (Keyboard)
Period: Renaissance 
Written: England 
8.
Fantasia in D minor by Peter Philips
Performer:  Siegbert Rampe (Keyboard)
Period: Renaissance 
Written: England 

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