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As It Fell On A Holie Eve - Music For An Elizabethan Christmas / Baird, Parthenia

Parthenia / Baird
Release Date: 09/14/2010 
Label:  Msr   Catalog #: 1365   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  William ByrdThomas RavenscroftAnthony HolborneAnonymous,   ... 
Performer:  Julianne Baird
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Parthenia
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 0 Hours 57 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

AS IT FELL ON A HOLIE EVE: MUSIC FOR AN ELIZABETHAN CHRISTMAS Julianne Baird (sop); Parthenia MSR MS 1365 (57:00 Text and Translation)

Works by ANON, BULL, BYRD, HOLBORNE, HUME, MORLEY, RAVENSCROFT

Christmas anthology CDs are a glut on the market, and apparently one of the relatively few sure moneymakers for classical music record labels, despite the resulting duplication of repertoire. This applies as much to medieval and Renaissance music Read more anthologies as to albums of carols performed by choirs and/or brass, and the inevitable new recordings of Handel’s Messiah and Bach’s Christmas Oratorio.

Given that, what does this disc (received far too late for review in the November/December 2010 issue) have to commend itself and stand out from the crowd? Actually, a good deal. First, the 22 selections offered here—a miscellany of carols, lute songs, keyboard pieces, and sacred anthems, arranged for viol consort and (in tracks 2, 3, 7, 9, 11, 14, 19, and 22) solo soprano—largely manage to avoid vain repetitions of the contents of other, similar historical period albums. Of these works, seven are by Byrd, three by Holborne, two by Hume, one each by Bull, Morley, and Ravenscroft, and seven by the prolific twin siblings Anonymous and Traditional. Second, there are the performers. Soprano Julianne Baird scarcely needs any introduction as an unsurpassed mistress of late Renaissance and Baroque music, and here she lavishes her customary pure vocal production, crystalline diction, and subtle textual inflection on the eight songs and sacred anthems allotted to her. The four-member viol consort Parthenia is equally accomplished, spinning out its instrumental lines with caressingly soft, silvery tone and polished ensemble playing. The one decidedly minor caveat is that one may not want to listen to the entire album at a single go, as after a while it can sound like a bit too much of a good thing due to the lack of variety in vocal and instrumental texture. The recorded sound is clear and slightly on the reverberant side; texts are provided, though printed in white type against a grey pictorial background that impairs legibility. The generally informative program notes could have been written at points with more care; like his pupil William Byrd, Thomas Tallis was a Catholic recusant, not a Protestant, and the opening remarks about Queen Elizabeth’s religious and liturgical preferences are decidedly jejune to anyone with even a minimal knowledge of her views and practices in such matters. Still, these are minor blemishes in an otherwise superior production. Though this CD arrived too late for review for the 2010 Christmas season, don’t overlook it for either yourself or a gift to friends for 2011.

FANFARE: James A. Altena

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James A. Altena gave this CD a favorable review in Fanfare 34:4. I’ve been asked to add a second opinion, and I find myself agreeing with nearly everything Altena had to say. The viol playing of the four-member Parthenia is polished and expressive, while the contribution of the stellar Julianne Baird, what little there is, elevates this disc to a higher plateau. The repertoire is balanced and well chosen (but more about that below). Altena pointed out that an hour’s worth of unrelenting viol playing, as good as it is, may be a bit much to take. I would go further and say that in this repertoire a plucked string instrument or two is de rigueur . I feel the same way about the previous MSR CD that featured these same artists, Les Amours du Mai , reviewed in Fanfare 33:6. Economic and artistic considerations being what they are, I can understand why the participants decided to stick with a proven formula, but I would urge them to consider adding the viol’s first cousin, the lute, to the instrumentarium of their next recording project.

Christmas CDs tend to be problematic for me, because so many of them are a repeat of previous material. Even with the older repertoire it’s hard to avoid yet another Coventry Carol or O Magnum Mysterium . The beauty of this CD is that much of the music is unrecorded and therefore unfamiliar. Sure, there are carols such as Lully, Lulla , or the waits’ carol The Old Year Now Away is Fled . But I’ll bet you don’t have a recording of either one—I certainly didn’t. Yet I can listen to the great Elizabethan consort music of Byrd, Morley, Holborne, and Hume all day; it’s the perfect foil and enhancement to the vocal numbers. In short, this is the thinking man’s Christmas CD, one that you can put on without fear of being assaulted by yet another Deck the Hall or Silent Night.

FANFARE: Christopher Brodersen
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Works on This Recording

1.
Prelude and Voluntary by William Byrd
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Parthenia
2.
Remember, O thou man by Thomas Ravenscroft
Performer:  Julianne Baird ()
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Parthenia
Period: Renaissance 
Written: by 1611; England 
Date of Recording: 06/2009 
Venue:  Concert Hall of Drew University, Dorothy 
Length: 3 Minutes 2 Secs. 
3.
From virgin's womb: Rejoice, rejoice by William Byrd
Performer:  Julianne Baird ()
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Parthenia
Period: Renaissance 
Written: England 
Date of Recording: 06/2009 
Venue:  Concert Hall of Drew University, Dorothy 
Length: 4 Minutes 30 Secs. 
4.
Pavans, Galliards, Almaines (65): As it fell on a holie eve by Anthony Holborne
Performer:  Julianne Baird ()
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Parthenia
Period: Renaissance 
Written: by 1599; England 
Date of Recording: 06/2009 
Venue:  Concert Hall of Drew University, Dorothy 
Length: 1 Minutes 17 Secs. 
5.
Pavan "The Cradle" by Anthony Holborne
Performer:  Julianne Baird ()
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Parthenia
Period: Renaissance 
Written: 16th Century; England 
Date of Recording: 06/2009 
Venue:  Concert Hall of Drew University, Dorothy 
Length: 2 Minutes 45 Secs. 
6.
Almain "Night Watch" by Anthony Holborne
Performer:  Julianne Baird ()
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Parthenia
Period: Renaissance 
Written: 16th Century; England 
Date of Recording: 06/2009 
Venue:  Concert Hall of Drew University, Dorothy 
Length: 1 Minutes 13 Secs. 
7.
Gradualia, Volume 2: O magnum misterium by William Byrd
Performer:  Julianne Baird (Soprano)
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Parthenia
Period: Renaissance 
Written: by 1607; England 
8.
Gradualia, Volume 2: Vidimus stellam ejus in oriente by William Byrd
Performer:  Julianne Baird ()
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Parthenia
Period: Renaissance 
Written: by 1607; England 
Date of Recording: 06/2009 
Venue:  Concert Hall of Drew University, Dorothy 
Length: 1 Minutes 56 Secs. 
9.
Puer natus est à 4 by William Byrd
Performer:  Julianne Baird ()
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Parthenia
Period: Renaissance 
Written: England 
Date of Recording: 06/2009 
Venue:  Concert Hall of Drew University, Dorothy 
Length: 3 Minutes 10 Secs. 
10.
Gentil madonna by Anonymous
Performer:  Julianne Baird ()
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Parthenia
Date of Recording: 06/2009 
Venue:  Concert Hall of Drew University, Dorothy 
Length: 1 Minutes 42 Secs. 
11.
Sweet Was the Song the Virgin Sung, carol (English) by Traditional
Performer:  Julianne Baird ()
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Parthenia
Period: Renaissance 
Date of Recording: 06/2009 
Venue:  Concert Hall of Drew University, Dorothy 
Length: 3 Minutes 24 Secs. 
12.
Fitzwilliam Virginal Book: no 189, Doctor Bulls My Selfe by John Bull
Performer:  Julianne Baird ()
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Parthenia
Date of Recording: 06/2009 
Venue:  Concert Hall of Drew University, Dorothy 
Length: 1 Minutes 4 Secs. 
13.
First Booke of Canzonets to 2 Voyces: La Sampogna by Thomas Morley
Performer:  Julianne Baird ()
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Parthenia
Period: Renaissance 
Written: by 1593; England 
Date of Recording: 06/2009 
Venue:  Concert Hall of Drew University, Dorothy 
Length: 1 Minutes 50 Secs. 
14.
Out of the orient crystal skies by William Byrd
Performer:  Julianne Baird ()
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Parthenia
Period: Renaissance 
Written: England 
Date of Recording: 06/2009 
Venue:  Concert Hall of Drew University, Dorothy 
Length: 4 Minutes 32 Secs. 
15.
Elizabethan Dance Suite: Pavan of Albarti by Anonymous
Performer:  Julianne Baird ()
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Parthenia
Date of Recording: 06/2009 
Venue:  Concert Hall of Drew University, Dorothy 
Length: 1 Minutes 4 Secs. 
16.
Elizabethan Dance Suite: Gallyard by Anonymous
Performer:  Julianne Baird ()
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Parthenia
Date of Recording: 06/2009 
Venue:  Concert Hall of Drew University, Dorothy 
Length: 0 Minutes 44 Secs. 
17.
Elizabethan Dance Suite: Allemana d'Amor by Anonymous
Performer:  Julianne Baird ()
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Parthenia
Date of Recording: 06/2009 
Venue:  Concert Hall of Drew University, Dorothy 
Length: 1 Minutes 16 Secs. 
18.
Fantasia a 4 no 1 in G minor by William Byrd
Performer:  Julianne Baird ()
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Parthenia
Period: Renaissance 
Written: England 
Date of Recording: 06/2009 
Venue:  Concert Hall of Drew University, Dorothy 
Length: 2 Minutes 26 Secs. 
19.
Lully, lulla, thow littel tyne child "Coventry Carol" by Traditional
Performer:  Julianne Baird ()
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Parthenia
Period: Renaissance 
Written: 16th Century; England 
Date of Recording: 06/2009 
Venue:  Concert Hall of Drew University, Dorothy 
Length: 3 Minutes 36 Secs. 
20.
Captaine Humes Poeticall Musicke: Harke, harke by Tobias Hume
Performer:  Julianne Baird ()
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Parthenia
Period: Renaissance 
Written: by 1607; England 
Date of Recording: 06/2009 
Venue:  Concert Hall of Drew University, Dorothy 
Length: 2 Minutes 7 Secs. 
21.
A Mery Conceit. The Q(ueens) delight by Tobias Hume
Performer:  Julianne Baird ()
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Parthenia
Period: Renaissance 
Written: 1607 
Date of Recording: 06/2009 
Venue:  Concert Hall of Drew University, Dorothy 
Length: 2 Minutes 7 Secs. 
22.
The old yeare now away is fled (English) by Traditional
Performer:  Julianne Baird ()
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Parthenia
Period: Renaissance 
Written: United Kingdom 
Date of Recording: 06/2009 
Venue:  Concert Hall of Drew University, Dorothy 
Length: 5 Minutes 25 Secs. 

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