John Wilbye: Draw on Sweet Night

I Fagiolini / Robert Hollingworth

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John Wilbye: Draw on Sweet Night Review

by Keith Finke

Though several of the madrigals by John Wilbye still appear on Renaissance programs, he is rarely the main subject, and the rather smaller output of the English madrigal school, compared to its Italian counterpart, has found a diminished audience over time. Wilbye was not a very prolific composer, at least in terms of what made it out of his patron's home, but he was among the most prominent composers of the style during its relatively brief time of popularity. The bulk of his surviving output comes from two books of madrigals, from 1598 and 1609, for three to six voices, and I Fagiolini's program contains selections from both volumes and all vocal combinations. The first volume comes from when Wilbye was in his mid-twenties, and the madrigal was still a fairly new phenomenon in the London area, with similarities in his writing to what was being produced and performed at the time. The pieces in the second set, inscribed for voices or viols, are fully mature and even forward-looking harmonically; they don't necessarily need the text, but they do benefit from it in fully conveying the music. I Fagiolini and its founder, director, and countertenor Robert Hollingworth were featured on Tony Britten's 2015 film Draw on Sweet Night about the life of Wilbye, and six of the present tracks were recorded for that reason, with the remainder recorded in 2021. It's an enjoyable dive into the music of Wilbye, and one hopes I Fagiolini, or another group inspired by this recording, takes a turn with the remaining works from these sets.

Track Listing

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time Stream
1 I Fagiolini / Robert Hollingworth 04:38 Amazon
2 I Fagiolini / Robert Hollingworth 02:00 Amazon
3 I Fagiolini / Robert Hollingworth 02:17 Amazon
4 I Fagiolini / Robert Hollingworth 04:44 Amazon
5 I Fagiolini / Robert Hollingworth 01:48 Amazon
6 I Fagiolini / Robert Hollingworth 02:29 Amazon
Work(s)
7 I Fagiolini / Robert Hollingworth 04:09 Amazon
8 I Fagiolini / Robert Hollingworth 02:22 Amazon
9 I Fagiolini / Robert Hollingworth 02:46 Amazon
10 I Fagiolini / Robert Hollingworth 05:49 Amazon
11 I Fagiolini / Robert Hollingworth 02:41 Amazon
12 I Fagiolini / Robert Hollingworth 02:44 Amazon
13 I Fagiolini / Robert Hollingworth 02:24 Amazon
14 I Fagiolini / Robert Hollingworth 02:22 Amazon
15 I Fagiolini / Robert Hollingworth 03:38 Amazon
16 I Fagiolini / Robert Hollingworth 01:49 Amazon
17 I Fagiolini / Robert Hollingworth 02:41 Amazon
18 I Fagiolini / Robert Hollingworth 01:47 Amazon
19 I Fagiolini / Robert Hollingworth 02:09 Amazon
20 I Fagiolini / Robert Hollingworth 01:31 Amazon
21 I Fagiolini / Robert Hollingworth 04:23 Amazon
22 I Fagiolini / Robert Hollingworth 01:22 Amazon
23 I Fagiolini / Robert Hollingworth 02:32 Amazon
24 I Fagiolini / Robert Hollingworth 04:31 Amazon
25 I Fagiolini / Robert Hollingworth 05:59 Amazon
blue highlight denotes track pick