King Henry VIII as a young man
Most of the program was anchored around the reign of King Henry VIII (1509-1547), a monarch who loved music, who composed and sang as well as being a patron. Of the three selections credited to Henry in this concert, the lovely carol Green Groweth the Holly stood out from the others. The best instrumental selections were arranged for three recorders, like the anonymous Ave rex angelorum and the arrangement of Christ Church Bells, with its opening repeated note motif meant to evoke tintinnabulation. Fa la sol, arranged for two recorders and violin, was also charming, the work of William Cornysh, one of Henry VIII's best chapel musicians. The singing -- by tenors Philip Cave and Robert Petillo, bass Bob McDonald, and countertenor Drew Minter -- was certainly good, in some cases exceptional, but not without a few slips here and there. The instrumental portions -- without the other half of the core group, lutenist Christopher Kendall (who has recently begun a new position at the University of Michigan) -- were fine on a range of instruments. In particular, guest artist Tom Zajac's contribution on the bagpipe, in dance selections from the Mulliner Book, was a hit.
Cecelia Porter, Folger Consort (Washington Post, December 19)
The next concert by the Folger Consort, The Elizabethan Muse: Shakespeare, Byrd, and Dowland, will take place on January 5 and 6 at Washington National Cathedral. It should be a musically superlative way to celebrate the New Year.