martes, 17 de febrero de 2015

The Choir Project al día | 14-II-2015

William Cornysh [c. 1465-1523]: Woefully arrayed à 4.  
Stile Antico.
Secular with sacred inspiration.

     David Greer wrote about Cornysh:
«Composer, poet, dramatist and actor, who may have been the son of William Cornysh. This relationship has not been proved, nor is there complete certainty of identity in some of the references to ‘Cornysh’ in the royal accounts and elsewhere. Only the compiler of the Fayrfax Manuscript [GB-Lbl Add.5465] took care to avoid confusion by ascribing three pieces there to ‘William Cornyssh Junior’.

     It was probably this Cornysh who received several payments for his part in court entertainments from 1493 onwards. The first was on 12 November 1493 ‘for a prophecy’, followed by payment for playing the part of St George in the Twelfth Night revels of 1494. In 1501 a Cornysh devised pageants and ‘disguysings’ for the wedding festivities of Arthur, Prince of Wales, and Catherine of Aragon, and it was probably the same man who received payment ‘for setting of a Carrall’ on Christmas Day 1502.

     In 1504 he was imprisoned in the Fleet, and while in prison he wrote a poem entitled A Treatise bitwene Trouth and Enformacion [GB-Lbl Roy.18.D.11; ed. E. Flügel, Anglia, xiv, 1892, 466–71] which is superscribed ‘In the Fleete made by me William Cornysshe otherwyse called Nysshewhete, chapelman with the moost famost kyng Henry the vijth’. His alias is clearly made up of the last syllable of his name and ‘whete’ for ‘corn’. The treatise, written in seven-line stanzas of rhyme royal, consists of four introductory verses which complain how a man may be convicted by false information, followed by A Parable betwene Enformacion and Musike, which argues that the author had been wrongfully accused. The poem makes elaborate use of musical terms. It is not known for what offence he was sent to the Fleet; the common assertion that it was for a satire against the unpopular Sir William Empson is based on a misreading of a passage in Stow's Annales.

     As a Gentleman of the Chapel Royal Cornysh was present at the interment of Henry VII, the coronation of Henry VIII [both in 1509] and the burial of Prince Henry in 1511. On 29 September 1509 he became Master of the Children of the Chapel Royal in succession to William Newark, for whom he had deputized earlier; he held this post until his death. In this capacity he was responsible for the music performed in the chapel, and on two occasions in April 1515 he administered payments to visiting musicians who performed during the services there. He was also responsible for the education and general welfare of the choristers. Between 1509 and 1517 several royal choristers [including William Saunders and Robert Philips] boarded with Cornysh, and it appears from the monthly payments that from June 1517 all the choristers boarded with him. He is mentioned in an exchange of letters dating from 1518 between Richard Pace, the king's secretary, and Cardinal Wolsey concerning a chorister that the king had borrowed from the cardinal's chapel for his own; Cornysh was told that he must treat the boy well, ‘otherwise than he doth his own’ [Brewer, nos.4024–5, 4043–4, 4053–6]. At the same time he maintained connections with Westminster Abbey, as William Cornysh (i) had done: from 1517 to 1520 he leased accommodation from the Abbey, and for the feast of St Edward in 1522 he instructed the choristers of the Lady Chapel.

      From 1509 Cornysh was the leading light in the plays and entertainments that enlivened court life. It is unfortunate that none of his dramatic writings survives [the ‘fantastic attributions’ of Wallace were commented on by Chambers], but some of the plays in which he took part are known, among them The Golden Arbour [1511], The Dangerous Fortress [1514] and the [Triumph of Love and Beauty [1514]. Two of the main actors besides Cornysh were William Crane and John Kite, and these three are mentioned in a poem by Alexander Barclay [quoted by Stevens]:

All this may courtiers in court ofte times heare,
And also songes oftimes swete and cleare.
The birde of Cornwalle, the Crane and the Kite
And mo other like to heare is great delite,
Warbling their tunes at pleasour and at will,
Though some be busy that therin have no skill.

      Cornysh and Kite were also listed as visiting musicians at St Mary-at-Hill in 1510–11 [see Baillie, 1962].

     In September 1513 Cornysh took the Chapel Royal to France in the retinue of Henry VIII, and their performances won great favour. In June 1520 he was again across the Channel, to supervise the Chapel Royal's ceremonies at the field of the Cloth of Gold: he was in charge of the pageants on the Sunday night, and received payment for the maintenance of ten choristers from 29 May to 22 July. In 1522 the Emperor Charles V visited England to cement an alliance with Henry VIII against the French, and on 15 June the court was entertained with a play by Cornysh which outlined in simple allegory the progress of the negotiations and the expected outcome. The play is described in a letter written on 21 June 1522 by Martin de Salinas, ambassador of the Archduke Ferdinand.

     Various import and export licences that Cornysh was formerly thought to have received [see Pine] were in fact awarded to his successor William Crane. On 20 August 1523 Cornysh was granted the manor of Hylden in Kent. All that is known of his domestic life is that his wife's name was Jane and that he had a son called Henry. His will, made in January 1512, was executed on 14 October 1523. He was buried in the ‘Roode’ church of East Greenwich.

    William Cornysh made a notable contribution to the repertory of the secular partsong, which flourished in the reign of Henry VIII. Many of these show the influence of the medieval carol, with its verses and burdens. Woffully araid has three verses with a burden that is given in full at the beginning and end but is shortened between the verses. Yow and I and Amyas is simple and chordal. A robyn is a three-part canon, and My love sche morneth is canonic in its two lower parts. These two pieces, like some other partsongs in this repertory, seem to incorporate elements of pre-existing melodies. Of the instrumental pieces, Fa la sol is long and intricate, and the untitled piece seems to be a catholicon, that is, designed to be perfomed in different modes. Its bass part is constructed like a palindrome, pivoting at bars 15 and 25.

     A number of impressive sacred works are ascribed in other sources to a composer named Cornysh. In addition, there are works now lost that are attributed to someone of this name: an antiphon Altissimi potentia [NOHM, iii, 1960, p.318, n.2]; a Magnificat, a Stabat mater and a five-part antiphon Ad te purissima virgo [formerly in the Eton Choirbook, GB-WRec 178] and some masses listed in a 1529 inventory of King's College, Cambridge [HarrisonMMB, appx iv]. The name ‘Cornysh’ was entered in small writing at the end of several works, including three masses, in the Lambeth Choirbook [GB-Llp 1], but the significance of this is not known. In the extant Eton Choirbook pieces the style ranges from the flamboyance of the surviving Stabat mater to the simple eloquence of the Ave Maria mater Dei. The surviving Magnificat is also extremely florid in places and encompasses an unusually wide range, from C to g''. It has been suggested that the sacred works are the work of William Cornysh (i) rather than the younger man [see Skinner, 1997]. If indeed they are by William Cornysh (ii), however, then he was a composer of great emotional and technical range; whichever the case, the younger Cornysh's versatility as poet, dramatist, ‘player’ and composer reveals him to be a true man of the Renaissance.»

     Matthew O'Donovan said:
«One of the leading English composers around the turn of the sixteenth century was William Cornysh, some of whose chucruch music is preserved in the Eton Choirbook. Woefully arrayed, however, is not church music, but rather a devotional 'carol' intended for domestic performance, and as such is more economical in word-setting, simpler in texture and less ornate than Cornysh's large-scale antiphons. What is striking, however, is the care shown in conveying the text; although textual engagement has by no means reached baroque levels of sophistication, this piece is laden with affective gestures to convey the meaning, while occasional phrases receive particularly vivid word-painting [such as the alternating back and forth between two chord on the words 'tugged to and fro'.]»

For me, this piece has one of the most unique and interesting beginings of the English Renaissance, with the incredible amazing and ornament tenor phrase and the impressive duet with the bass. This piece is absolutely evocative. Stile Antico perform here with stunning sonority, pitch and balance. For me this probably the best version has been recorded. Passion & Resurrection is one of the best albums in the discography, one of the best discographies for one of the best vocal ensembles in the world.

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