Anne Boleyn’s Songbook

Author: 
David Fallows
CD715. Anne Boleyn’s SongbookAnne Boleyn’s Songbook

Anne Boleyn’s Songbook

  • Fer pietatis opem miseris mater
  • Forte si dulci Stigium boantem
  • Gentilz galans compaingnons
  • Laudate Dominum
  • Maria Magdalena et altera Maria
  • O death, rock me asleep
  • O virgo virginum
  • Popule meus
  • Venes regrets, venes tous
  • Que est ista
  • Sicut lilium inter spinas
  • Paranymphus salutat virginem
  • Tempus meum est ut revertar
  • Liber generationis Jesu Christi
  • Praeter rerum seriem
  • Stabat mater dolorosa/Comme femme desconfortée
  • In illo tempore
  • Tota pulchra es
  • Jouyssance vous donneray

The manuscript concerned – MS1070 in the Royal College of Music – contains 42 pieces, all but three of them motets. It is basically French, in both repertory and script. But in the middle of Loyset Compère’s motet Paranymphus salutat virginem, more or less in the middle of the manuscript, an English hand has written ‘Mistres A Bolleyne nowe thus’ (those last words being her father’s motto). This has given rise to a flurry of literature over the past 50 years: the great Edward Lowinsky suggested that the book was copied for Anne Boleyn while she was queen; David Skinner here suggests that, given the wording of her name, she was not yet queen but that it was copied between the beginning of her relationship with Henry VIII in 1526 and when her father was elevated to an earldom in 1529. Even so, the most likely copying date still seems to me the 1505-13 proposed a few years ago by Joshua Rifkin.

But it was a nice idea to follow Alamire’s earlier discs of ‘The Spy’s Choirbook’ (1/15), assuredly prepared for Henry VIII and his first wife, Catherine of Aragon, with selections from a manuscript that was apparently owned by his second wife. It is necessarily selections, because some pieces are incomplete (and some of them were already in ‘The Spy’s Choirbook’); but more than 95 minutes of music could have fitted onto two CDs. And with that decision comes the inevitable conclusion that there was no need to follow the sequence in the choirbook. So the sequence of pieces here is judged for musical effect and variety.

All three of the secular songs in the manuscript are included here, all sung eloquently by Clare Wilkinson with accompaniment by Jacob Heringman and Kirsty Whatley; and they add at the end O Deathe rock me asleep, which has nothing to do with the manuscript but has variously been associated with Anne Boleyn, although the music sounds more Elizabethan. For the rest, the motets are sturdily sung by a mixed chorus of 16 voices, with the programme – at least to my ear – focusing around three large Josquin pieces, Stabat mater, Liber generationis and Praeter rerum seriem, this last in an especially stirring performance. But the main impression is of the sheer variety of motets contained in this lovely collection.

Gramophone Subscriptions

From£67/year

Gramophone Print

Gramophone Print

no Digital Edition
no Digital Archive
no Reviews Database
no Events & Offers
From£67/year
Subscribe
From£67/year

Gramophone Reviews

Gramophone Reviews

no Print Edition
no Digital Edition
no Digital Archive
no Events & Offers
From£67/year
Subscribe
From£67/year

Gramophone Digital Edition

Gramophone Digital Edition

no Print Edition
no Reviews Database
no Events & Offers
From£67/year
Subscribe

If you are a library, university or other organisation that would be interested in an institutional subscription to Gramophone please click here for further information.

© MA Business and Leisure Ltd. 2019