Photo: unknown (wikipedia)
If the name Christopher Gibbons sounds familiar, it’s probably because of his much more famous father, Orlando Gibbons. Compared to his father, Gibbons Jr. has received far less attention from performers and music historians.
But thanks to a brand new release from Harmonia Mundi, we now have access to part of Gibbons’ sizeable repertoire. Richard Egarr plays the organ, and directs the Academy of Ancient Music and its choir in the very first recording ever made of Christopher Gibbons motets, anthems, string fantasias and organ voluntaries.
As a boy, Christopher was probably a chorister at the Chapel Royal, later serving briefly as the organist of Winchester Cathedral. But because of the English Civil War and a resulting suppression of church music, Gibbons’ post was terminated in 1642. During this interruption to his career, Gibbons made his living teaching the organ. Even though he was a Royalist, Gibbons remained in London during the years when England was under the control of Oliver Cromwell and the opposition.
After the Restoration, church music once again flourished, and Christopher Gibbons secured a comfortable position in the court of Charles II and at Westminster Abbey playing the organ and composing.
Richard Egarr performs several of Gibbons’ organ voluntaries in this recording. Also on the disc are choral works ranging from small scale intimate pieces to settings for full double choir along with a selection of Fantasy-suites scored for violins, bass viol, and organ.