Musick Rediscover'd perform music from the latter years of the sixteenth centuries to the very beginning of the nineteenth centuries in the personae of a late Georgian lady and gentlemen amusing themselves at home with music both ancient and modern.
The instruments we use are principally harpsichord, “baroque” ‘cello and bass viol, common flute (recorder) and large “baroque” guitar – again are such as would be recognised at in our period. Pictures and descriptions of our instruments will follow soon. And of course we sing: soprano and tenor.
Our dress is such as would be worn by people of the middling sort the late eighteenth century. More photos to follow!
Why Musick Rediscover’d?
Many believe that “early music” – other than bits and pieces of Bach and of course Handel – was rediscovered in the beginning years of the twentieth century. In fact sacred music from the sixteenth century was in the repertoire of English parish church choirs in the eighteenth century (Ravenscroft’s Remember O thou Man and Campion’s Never Weather-beaten Sail are two examples) and madrigals (Michael East’s How merrily we live and the well-known madrigal Fair Phyllis I saw sitting all alone, attributed in at least one glee collection to Thomas Morley but actually by John Farmer) were published in glee books for performance in London pubs. In London the Academy of Ancient Music and the Madrigal Society were formed to perform music from the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries: for example the Academy sang Palestrina’s Sicut cervus in 1733, and in the 1740s the Madrigal Society were singing Gesualdo! Maurice Greene and William Boyce published their compilation of cathedral music in the 1770s which contained music by Tallis, Byrd, Gibbons amongst that of many other composers of the sixteenth century and later. Beyond that, musicologists such as Charles Burney and John Hawkins studied and wrote extensively on music from the earliest times.
With all this flurry of interest in ancient music we can be confident that it was performed at home, “rediscover’d” by keen musicians. We can therefore include, in our reconstruction of Georgian domestic music-making, repertoire from older times: for example lute songs by Dowland (1600s, England); and as our personae were great travellers and avid delvers into old libraries, we include music from distant places too: for example ricercars for bass viol by Ortiz (1550s, Spain), arias by Lully (1650s, France) dramatic cantatas by Barbara Strozzi (1660s, Italy).
We also “rediscover” music by less familiar English composers of the eighteenth century, such as James Oswald, William Croft and John Hill whose excellent music was very popular in Georgian England and is unjustly neglected today. Nor do we neglect music by those composers of the times familiar to us today including, Handel, Purcell and Haydn.
We hope that our performances – best heard in a domestic context such as Vanbrugh Hall at Grimsthorpe Castle in Lincolnshire – bring to life the music that would have been enjoyed at home in the latter part of the reign of good King George.