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Harmonia Early Music

All In A Garden Green

We’re celebrating gardens and harvesting musical blooms from across the centuries—flowers and fruit and everything green.

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spring crocus

Photo: Hans Braxmeier (pixabay)

Spring crocus.

It’s been a long, hard winter, and for most of us, spring is a welcome relief. The birds fly home, the ground thaws, and if you’re a gardener, you finally get to dig around in the dirt. Coming up, we’re celebrating gardens and harvesting musical blooms from across the centuries—flowers and fruit and everything green.


Love blooms in this text from the Song of Songs:

Come, my beloved, let us go forth into the fields, and lodge in the villages;
let us go out early to the vineyards, and see whether the vines have budded,
whether the grape blossoms have opened and the pomegranates are in bloom.

We’ll hear a setting of this text by Spanish priest and composer Sebastian de Vivanco. It’s lush music for a lush text. We’ll hear more from the Song of Songs later in the program.

Sebastian de Vivanco: Tr. 16 Sebastian de Vivanco, Veni dilecte mi, motet (4:21)
Stile Antico — Song of Songs (Harmonia Mundi, 2009)
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Digging for Spring: Brave flowers and fantasies

Dirt and sun and those first few buds of spring: We’re pulling on our boots, taking out our trowels and planting a musical garden this hour on Harmonia.

Gardens—especially spring gardens—have inspired composers for centuries, and after a long, hard winter, we’re ready for some musical blooms.

Let’s start with one of the very first flowers to brave the cold, the crocus.

Scottish composer James Oswald wrote multiple “Airs for the Seasons” in the 1700s, mixing elements of Scottish traditional music into suites based on flowers. There’s “Hawthorn” for Winter, “Poppy” for Summer, even “Sneezewort” for Autumn.

We’ll hear two “Crocus” airs.

Tr. 34. Airs for the Spring: Crocus: I. Aria: Moderato (1:20) / Tr. 35. Airs for the Spring: Crocus: II. Allegro assai (1:22)
Broadside Band — Oswald: Airs for the Seasons (Dorian, 1998)
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The old English tune “All in a Garden Green” is still popular among contradancers and folk musicians. It was even more popular in the seventeenth century: Many composers of that time used the tune as the seed for extended instrumental fantasies.

Let’s listen to a few of these. But first, the Baltimore Consort takes us through the original tune, as published in England in the 1600s collection The English Dancing Master.

Published by Henry Playford : Tr. 1 The English Dancing Master, Part II: No. 19. All in a garden green (1:59)
The Baltimore Consort — A Trip to Kilburn (Sono Luminus , 1996)
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And now that we’ve heard the tune, let’s hear how a master composer can help it blossom. We’ll start with the seventeenth-century English master William Byrd, who incorporated the tune into a fantasy for keyboard. After that, we’ll hear the tune again, this time as the basis for a fantasia for viols by John Jenkins.

William Byrd: D 2, Tr 10: All in a Garden Green (4:30)
The Toronto Consort — All in a Garden Green (Marquis Classics , 2013)
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Tr. 5 Fantasia in F major: Fantasia in F major, 'All in a Garden Green' (3:02)
Rose Consort of Viols — Jenkins: All in a Garden Green (Naxos, 1993)
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Quam Pulchra Es

One of the lushest and most lovely parts of the Bible is the Song of Songs, an extended love poem filled with images of earthly delights. The beloved is compared to pomegranates, to lilies, to grapes and other blooming and growing things. It’s love represented as garden—and what lover, or composer, could resist?

Let’s hear music based on the Song of Songs, two settings of Quam Pulchra Es. In this text, there are palm trees and grapes, fields and flowers—a wealth of fruit, and of course, love. We’ll hear a setting by the sixteenth-century northern European composer Nicholas Gombert, followed by a slightly later setting by the Italian composer Alessandro Grandi.

Sebastian de Vivanco: Tr. 16 Sebastian de Vivanco, Veni dilecte mi, motet (4:21)
Stile Antico — Song of Songs (Harmonia Mundi, 2009)
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Alessandro Grandi: Tr. 4 O quam tu pulchra es, motet for 3 voices (3:32)
The English Cornet and Sackbutt Ensemble — Accendo (Deux-Elles , 2001)
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Musical gardens: Whortleberries and an English bouquet

We’ve heard multiple Renaissance settings of what is surely one of the most botanical parts of the Bible, the Song of Songs! Now let’s rewind several centuries to hear yet one more version, this time from the Middle Ages. We’ll hear Quam pulchra es, a motet by the medieval composer Leonel Power.

Sebastian de Vivanco: Tr. 16 Sebastian de Vivanco, Veni dilecte mi, motet (4:21)
Stile Antico — Song of Songs (Harmonia Mundi, 2009)
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The members of the Orlando Consort are dedicated musical gardeners—so much so that they’ve released a full CD’s worth of music for the horticulturally inclined. Let’s hear two more garden-inspired pieces from the Orlando Consort’s garden-inspired recording The Rose, the Lily & the Whortleberry.

Tr. 7 England (1290-1460): Motet - Quam pulchra es (Leonel Power) (3’39’’) / Tr. 9 Burgundy (1460-1506): Chanson - Royne des flours (Alexander Agricola) (4’06’’) / Tr. 20 Italy (1508-1565): Madrigal - I vaghi fiori (Jacques Arcadelt) (1’41’’)
Orlando Consort — The Rose the Lily the Whortleberry: Medieval and Renaissance Gardens in Music (Harmonia Mundi , 2005)
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Spring vs. winter: the contrast is among the most potent in art, and life! We’ll finish up our tour of musical gardens with a bouquet of pieces from England. Some dwell on the cold, and some give thanks for its end.

Winter comes first, as winter always does.

Let’s hear a tune from The English Dancing Master: “Cold and Raw,” followed by “When a Cruel Long Winter” from Henry Purcell’s The Fairy Queen.

Tr. 7 England (1290-1460): Motet - Quam pulchra es (Leonel Power) (3’39’’) / Tr. 9 Burgundy (1460-1506): Chanson - Royne des flours (Alexander Agricola) (4’06’’) / Tr. 20 Italy (1508-1565): Madrigal - I vaghi fiori (Jacques Arcadelt) (1’41’’)
Orlando Consort — The Rose the Lily the Whortleberry: Medieval and Renaissance Gardens in Music (Harmonia Mundi , 2005)
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Thankfully, winter does end! And we’ll end our garden tour with two pieces celebrating warmer weather, both performed by The Toronto Consort.

Tr. 20 Playford, 1686 Cold and Raw (1:39) / Tr. 21 Henry Purcell, The Fairy Queen, Z. 629, Act 4: "When a Cruel Long Winter" (2’05’’)
Ensemble Le Tendre Amour and Nina Åkerblom Nielsen — All in a Garden Green: Four Seasons of English Music (Brilliant Classics , 2012)
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Featured CD: Song of Songs

For our featured recording, we’ll return to a CD heard earlier this hour: Song of Songs from the ensemble Stile Antico.

As I already mentioned, the Old Testament love poem, Song of Songs, (also known as the Song of Solomon) is full of fertile garden imagery of buds and blossoms.

The popularity of Song of Songs “ripened” in the Middle Ages among composers, and continued. This recording includes settings of the text by composers of the 16th and early 17th centuries. The prolific composer Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina published a collection of twenty-nine settings in 1584. Let’s hear his motet Nigra sum.

Sebastian de Vivanco: Tr. 16 Sebastian de Vivanco, Veni dilecte mi, motet (4:21)
Stile Antico — Song of Songs (Harmonia Mundi, 2009)
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Break and Theme music

:30, Fleur de Valeur: A Medieval Bouquet, Trefoil, Bridge Records 2013, Tr. 7 (Faenza Codex, after Machaut, ca. 1400) De tout flors (intabulation) (excerpt of 3:03)

:60, Fleur de Valeur: A Medieval Bouquet, Trefoil, Bridge Records 2013, Tr. 13 (Raimbaut de Vaqueiras, fl. 1180-1207) Kalenda Maya (instrumental) (excerpt of 1:58)

:30, Fleur de Valeur: A Medieval Bouquet, Trefoil, Bridge Records 2013, Tr. 2 (Anon./Buxheim c. 1450-70) O rosa bella (intabulation) (excerpt of 2:43)

Theme: Danse Royale, Ensemble Alcatraz, Elektra Nonesuch 79240-2 1992 B000005J0B, T.12: La Prime Estampie Royal

The writers for this edition of Harmonia are Anne Timberlake and LuAnn Johnson.

Learn more about recent early music CDs on the Harmonia Early Music Podcast. You can subscribe on iTunes or at harmonia early music dot org.

Sebastian de Vivanco: Tr. 16 Sebastian de Vivanco, Veni dilecte mi, motet (4:21)
Stile Antico — Song of Songs (Harmonia Mundi, 2009)
Buy from Amazon »
album cover
Tr. 34. Airs for the Spring: Crocus: I. Aria: Moderato (1:20) / Tr. 35. Airs for the Spring: Crocus: II. Allegro assai (1:22)
Broadside Band — Oswald: Airs for the Seasons (Dorian, 1998)
Buy from Amazon »
album cover
Published by Henry Playford : Tr. 1 The English Dancing Master, Part II: No. 19. All in a garden green (1:59)
The Baltimore Consort — A Trip to Kilburn (Sono Luminus , 1996)
Buy from Amazon »
album cover
William Byrd: D 2, Tr 10: All in a Garden Green (4:30)
The Toronto Consort — All in a Garden Green (Marquis Classics , 2013)
Buy from Amazon »
album cover
Tr. 5 Fantasia in F major: Fantasia in F major, 'All in a Garden Green' (3:02)
Rose Consort of Viols — Jenkins: All in a Garden Green (Naxos, 1993)
Buy from Amazon »
album cover
Alessandro Grandi: Tr. 4 O quam tu pulchra es, motet for 3 voices (3:32)
The English Cornet and Sackbutt Ensemble — Accendo (Deux-Elles , 2001)
Buy from Amazon »
album cover
Tr. 7 England (1290-1460): Motet - Quam pulchra es (Leonel Power) (3’39’’) / Tr. 9 Burgundy (1460-1506): Chanson - Royne des flours (Alexander Agricola) (4’06’’) / Tr. 20 Italy (1508-1565): Madrigal - I vaghi fiori (Jacques Arcadelt) (1’41’’)
Orlando Consort — The Rose the Lily the Whortleberry: Medieval and Renaissance Gardens in Music (Harmonia Mundi , 2005)
Buy from Amazon »
album cover
Tr. 20 Playford, 1686 Cold and Raw (1:39) / Tr. 21 Henry Purcell, The Fairy Queen, Z. 629, Act 4: "When a Cruel Long Winter" (2’05’’)
Ensemble Le Tendre Amour and Nina Åkerblom Nielsen — All in a Garden Green: Four Seasons of English Music (Brilliant Classics , 2012)
Buy from Amazon »
album cover
Anne Timberlake

Anne Timberlake holds degrees in recorder performance from Oberlin Conservatory and Indiana University. She has received awards from the American Recorder Society and the National Foundation for the Advancement of the Arts, and, in 2008, was awarded a Fulbright Grant. With Musik Ekklesia, Anne has recorded for the Sono Luminus label, and she’s a founding member of the ensemble Wayward Sisters, specializing in music of the early baroque. Anne enjoys teaching as well as performing. In addition to music, she holds a B.A. in Creative Writing and covers the classical music beat for the Richmond Times-Dispatch (Virginia).

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