Pieter-Jan Belder continues his superb survey of the Fitzwilliam Virginal Book, an extraordinary manuscript compiled in the late 16th century and held in the Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge. In this, the sixth volume, Belder focuses on the compositions of John Bull, one of the main contributors to the collection. Principally an organist and organ-builder, Bull left behind a variety of attractive pieces whose charm is belied by the way he often presented himself as a Doctor in music, which might suggest a rather scientific approach to composition. Nonetheless, his Ut Re Mi Fa Sol La, one of the longest and most challenging pieces in the manuscript and reminiscent of Tallis, is appropriately complex, beginning with two-part writing and adding additional voices as it progresses, while employing numerous tempo changes and cross-rhythms.
In contrast to the prolific Bull, the remainder of the recording features a host of composers who appear only a few times in the manuscript. Other than Orlando Gibbons, one of the most important of all virginalists, the other contributors are less well known, and many have obscure or undocumented lives. The repetition of such forms as the pavan and alman across the set, however, allows the listener to make a number of interesting comparisons.
Pieter-Jan Belder is not only a consummate performer but also a serious scholar of keyboard music from the Elizabethan and Jacobean eras. His research on the Fitzwilliam Virginal Book has led to a highly informed performance practice. Belder specialises in performance on historical instruments, and he has carefully selected three period harpsichords for this recording in order to create the most authentic sound possible. The listener is rewarded with a substantial set that highlights the superb achievements of the composers of this era, laying the foundations of keyboard music for centuries to come.
The 6th and penultimate instalment of one of the most prestigious and ambitious recording projects in Early Music: the complete Fitzwilliam Virginal Book!
The Fitzwilliam Virginal Book is the most famous, extensive and important collection of keyboard music from the English Elizabethan and Jacobean Era. Lodged in the Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge it contains more than 300 works for the virginal, by composers such as John, Bull, William Byrd, Thomas Tomkins and many others.
This 6th issue presents the remainder of the works by John Bull in the manuscript, consisting of dance forms like Galliarda, Pavan, Alman and others. The second CD is dedicated to composers who only contributed a few works to the manuscript: Warrock, Galleazzo, Peerson, Parsons, Tisdale, Inglott, Marchant, Oysermayre, Oldfield and Blytheman.
Pieter-Jan Belder, one of the world’s most respected and prolific harpsichordists, received rave reviews for his previous issues in this series: “..a captivating portrait..full of rhythmic drive..he displays a keen sense of rhythm…broad and brilliant gestures…one of the most important recording projects of this decade..”(Musicweb-International).