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At the Court of Henry VIII with Folger Consort and Lionheart

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Read my review published today in the Style section of the Washington Post:

Charles T. Downey, Folger's music presentation is fit for King Henry's court
Washington Post, October 4, 2010

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Lionheart, Paris 1200: Chant and Polyphony from 12th Century France
The Folger Consort's latest program of Renaissance music, "Pastime With Good Company," lived up to its name. This outstanding selection of secular and sacred music from around the reign of King Henry VIII, heard Saturday evening, was timed to coincide with the upcoming production of Shakespeare's "Henry VIII" at the Folger Theatre. It was music worth hearing, most of it not familiar, performed with sensitivity and polish.

Sacred music for the Chapel Royal, performed by the six-man vocal ensemble Lionheart, was the most strikingly beautiful. Movements from the "Meane Mass" of John Taverner and some of the Proper chants for Trinity Sunday provided a framework like that of a Mass. The polyphony was balanced among the six voices, generally distributed among three or four parts, with bass Kurt-Owen Richards providing a solid but not growling foundation.

The sole countertenor (Lawrence Lipnik) was occasionally weak at the top of the texture, but that made the inner voices easier to distinguish. Most impressively, the ensemble switched effortlessly between the flowing, unmetered style of chant and the measured harmonies of unaccompanied polyphony, like William Cornysh's gorgeous motet "Ave Maria Mater Dei." The Renaissance English pronunciation of Latin observed by the singers, although justified by research, was jarring. [Continue reading]
Pastime with Good Company
Folger Consort and Lionheart
Folger Shakespeare Library

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