Iestyn Davies, Countertenor
·· Asako Morikawa, Treble Viol
·· Emily Ashton, Treble and Tenor Viols
·· Joanna Levine, Tenor Viol
·· Sam Stadlen, Bass Viol
·· Richard Boothby, Bass Viol
Iestyn Davies, Countertenor
BYRD "My mind to me a kingdom is"
BYRD Fantasia à 5 in C
BYRD "Ye sacred muses"
BYRD In Nomine à 5, No. 5
VAUGHAN WILLIAMS "The Sky above the Roof"
VAUGHAN WILLIAMS "Silent Noon" from The House of Life
GIBBONS Fantasia à 4, No. 1
JOHANN CHRISTOPH BACH "Ach, dass ich Wassers gnug hätte” (Lamento)
GESUALDO "Beltà, poi che t’assenti"
GESUALDO "Dolcissima mia vita"
GESUALDO "Sparge la morte al mio Signor nel viso"
W. LAWES Consort Sett à 5 in A Minor
PURCELL Fantasy No. 6 in F Major, Z. 737
PURCELL "O solitude, my sweetest choice"
J. JENKINS Fantasy à 5, No. 7 in C Minor
HANDEL "Già l’ebro mio ciglio" from Orlando
HANDEL Passacaille from Trio Sonata in G Major, Op. 5, No, 4
HANDEL "Piangerò la sorte Mia" from Giulio Cesare in Egitto
PURCELL "Music for a while" from Oedipus, King of Thebes
In honor of the centenary of his birth, Carnegie Hall’s 2019–2020 season is dedicated to the memory of Isaac Stern in recognition of his extraordinary contributions to Carnegie Hall, arts advocacy, and the field of music.
At a Glance
Voices and viols were the “soup-and-sandwich” of Renaissance chamber music, a well-balanced combo equally favored by composers, listeners, and amateur and professional performers. The dulcet timbre of the various members of the viol family, from the high pardessus to the contrabass violone, made them agreeable companions for the singing voice. Moreover, the repertoire for viol consort was greatly enriched by transcriptions of vocal works, such as the three madrigals by Carlo Gesualdo on this evening’s program.
As the works by William Byrd, Orlando Gibbons, William Lawes, Henry Purcell, and John Jenkins suggest, the viol consort was especially popular in England. During the reign of Henry VIII, choir schools added viol instruction to their curricula, strengthening the bond between voices and instruments and leading to the development of genres like the consort song, exemplified by Byrd’s moving elegy for Thomas Tallis, “Ye sacred muses.” By 1667, Christopher Simpson could advise his countrymen that “you need not seek Outlandish [i.e., foreign] Authors, especially for Instrumental Musick; no Nation (in my opinion) being equal to the English in that way; as well for their excellent, as their various and numerous Consorts, of 3, 4, 5, and 6 Parts, made properly for Instruments …”
Complementing this potpourri of Renaissance consort music are Baroque gems by George Frideric Handel and a lesser-known member of the Bach family, as well as a pair of early 20th-century songs by a stylistic descendant of the Tudor masters, Ralph Vaughan Williams.
Joanna Levine, Tenor Viol | Sam Stadlen, Bass Viol
Richard Boothby, Bass Viol
In 2016, Fretwork celebrated its 30th anniversary. In these last three decades, the ensemble has explored the core repertory of great English consort music, from Taverner to Purcell, and made classic recordings against which others are judged. In 2019, Fretwork begins a series of concerts at Wigmore Hall to present the greatest English consort music from the Golden Age—six concerts ranging from Cornysh to Purcell. In 2014, the group concentrated on the music of John Dowland with a major tour throughout the UK with tenor Ian Bostridge.
Fretwork has performed in London’s major chamber music halls, including Kings Place, Cadogan Hall, and the Royal College of Music. The group debuted at Carnegie Hall in February 2010, and now tour to the US most years. In 2016, it made its longest tour to the Americas, visiting the US, Canada, and Colombia.
In addition to its work in early music, Fretwork has become known as a pioneer of contemporary music for viols, having commissioned more than 40 new works. The list of composers include some of the most prominent of our time: Simon Bainbridge, Sally Beamish, George Benjamin, Gavin Bryars, Elvis Costello, Duncan Druce, Tan Dun, Fabrice Fitch, Alexander Goehr, Orlando Gough, Barry Guy, John Joubert, Andrew Keeling, Nico Muhly, Thea Musgrave, Michael Nyman, Poul Ruders, Peter Sculthorpe, Sir John Tavener, and John Woolrich. The group now frequently presents programs consisting entirely of contemporary music.
In 2018, Fretwork performed and recorded a program that celebrated the music of Michael Nyman with Iestyn Davies. Along with celebrating its 30th anniversary with a star-studded concert at Kings Place in 2016, the group also recorded four albums, including Orlando Gough’s The World Encompassed, a 70-minute piece with narration by celebrated actor Simon Callow that describes, in musical terms, Sir Francis Drake’s circumnavigation of the globe in 1577–1580. Fretwork premiered Slow (In Nomine in 5 Parts) by Nico Muhly in 2015 at Kings Place, and in 2012, the ensemble premiered Muhly’s My Days with The Hilliard Ensemble.
In 2017, Mr. Davies received an Olivier Award nomination for singing the role of Farinelli in the Globe Theatre production Farinelli and the King opposite Mark Rylance, which had successful runs in the West End and on Broadway.
Mr. Davies has performed at such renowned opera stages and festivals as the Metropolitan Opera, Glyndebourne Festival, English National Opera, Teatro alla Scala, Lyric Opera of Chicago, and Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, as well as in Munich, Vienna, and Zurich. Recent highlights include returns to the Bayerische Staatsoper as Ottone in Agrippina, the Metropolitan Opera as Terry in Marnie, and Lyric Opera of Chicago as Polinesso in Ariodante. In the 2019–2020 season, he reprises the role of Ottone in Agrippina at the Royal Opera House and Metropolitan Opera.
Mr. Davies’s concert engagements have included performances at Carnegie Hall and Lincoln Center, as well as the Barbican Centre and Royal Albert Hall (London), Teatro alla Scala (Milan), Concertgebouw (Amsterdam), Tonhalle (Zurich), and Théâtre des Champs-Élysées (Paris). Recent concert highlights include performances with William Christie and the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, Bernard Labadie and Les Violons du Roy, and Jonathan Cohen and Arcangelo at the BBC Proms, as well as a tour with the Britten Sinfonia. This season, he joins Laurence Cummings and the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment in Bucharest for Orfeo ed Euridice, Harry Bicket and the New York Philharmonic for Messiah, and Emmanuelle Haim and the NDR Elbphilharmonie Orchestra for St. John Passion in Hamburg.
A committed recitalist, with repertoire ranging from Dowland to Eric Clapton, he enjoys a successful relationship with both Wigmore Hall and Saffron Hall, where he has curated residencies.
Mr. Davies has twice earned Gramophone’s Recital of the Year Award, and he won Gramophone’s Baroque Vocal Award for Bach Cantatas Nos. 54, 82 & 170 with Arcangelo and Jonathan Cohen. In 2017, he was named a Member of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire for his service to music.