from Sunday, July12th of the year2009.
I just entered one of those internet wormholes with no escape, so I’m hoping that in blogging about it, I can get back to work. I saw that iTunes added the Hyperion recording of the “Chirk Castle Part Book” which is one of these tomes of sacred music I had always heard about but never bothered to investigate deeplie. So, anyway, here is some information about it:
The borderland stronghold of Chirk Castle is strategically positioned to control the Dee and Ceiriog valleys, important routes into North Wales. Edward I began its construction in 1294, one of the many fortifications he built to subdue the Welsh following the overthrow of Llewelyn, last of the princes of Gwynedd. During the next three hundred years Chirk Castle changed hands regularly but in 1595 it was bought by the merchant adventurer Sir Thomas Myddelton, for £5000. He conducted most of his trade in London and even served as the city’s Lord Mayor in 1613. In order to simplify the administration of his Welsh estates he handed the control of Chirk Castle and its adjoining lands to his son, also called Thomas.
All of this is coming from the Hyperion page on the album, by the way. I love a liner note with historical context! Anyway, the long and short of it is that this random Welsh castle had a bunch of Elizabethan music going on, sort of later than you might imagine. One new discovery for me is the Tallis With All Our Hearts and Mouths:
Thomas Tallis With All Our Hearts and Mouths
The Brabant Ensemble / Rice
I like it also because it’s basically the same music as Tallis’s first Salvator Mundi setting:
Thomas Tallis Salvator Mundi I
Chapelle du Roi / Dixon
I never tire of that opening gesture or those expanding and contracting cadences. The ends of Tallis’s phrases remind me of that process of needing to unpack something to pack it “” he lets the dissonances really run around and then grabs them all together with a quick flick. It’s very satisfying to me.
Did everybody process Michael Jackson dancing to R. Kelly:
There is, in this video, one of the most amazing ten seconds of dance I have ever seen; it’s like Butoh and Tallis Cadences all at once. Watch the hands: he starts with these tight fists held close to the chin, and slowly slackens them. The left hand opens up and slowly falls, and then the right hand opens up, angles itself, and does a quick “come here” gesture. That gesture focuses the entire torso & head: watch as everything quickly tightens and the upper lip gets taut! It’s soooo good, and I love where it happens in the phrase: it’s in the beginning of the second bar of a four bar phrase, which is about as random a place as possible to put an accent “” it’s like having a wild and crazy night out on a Tuesday rather than Friday. <3 Michael. Speaking of wild and crazy nights, I went to a house party last night that involved not just a conga line and our topless hostess crawling across the ceiling, but also a giant sing-along:
It’s evidently an old Icelandic song that everybody knew! I need to get on it! Song recognition “” that kind of insane sing-along everybody in it together “” is one of the most inaccessible elements for foreigners. I wonder what the American versions would be “” maybe the theme song from Cheers or something? Oh I know. Sweet Caroline. That’s what it is.