Period ensembles have had great success re-creating the music of past eras, but some have even reconstructed the musical programs of specific historic events, based on documentation of the time. This album by the choral group Psallentes, the instrumental consort Oltremontano, and its director Wim Becu is a presentation of music for the coronation of Charles II in Westminster Abbey on April 23, 1661. After the drab years of Oliver Cromwell's rule, the restoration of the Stuart monarchy called for a glorious state celebration that required new ensembles, based on the practices in the French court. The music for the royal procession past the triumphal arches was provided by Matthew Locke, who composed a suite of dances for sackbuts and cornetts. For the coronation itself, the music consisted of works by Girolamo Fantini, William Child, William Byrd, and Pelham Humfrey, and the royal banquet and masque were accompanied by the dances and airs of Augustine Bassano, William Lawes, Byrd, and John Adson. (What may surprise listeners is the strong Renaissance character of much of the music, which still dominated in England while the Continent was already experiencing the high Baroque.) As a representation of the occasion, this recording is convincing in its musical performances and sound effects, which include crowd noises, horses, bells, and the drumming and fanfares that would have been heard at various points along the procession route. Strongly recommended for students of British history.
AllMusic Review by Blair Sanderson
|L' Harmonie Universelle|
|For His Majesty's Sagbuts and Cornetts "5-part things for the cornetts"|
|Courtly Masquing Ayres à 5 "for Cornets and Sagbuts"|