With Endless Teares
Henry Purcell / Robert Johnson / Henry Lawes / Nicholas Lanier / Jacques Gaultier / Pelham Humfrey

With Endless Teares

Johannette Zomer / Fred Jacobs

CCS 26609 - 0723385266099

Information GreatBrittain Germany

There is a gradual increase in the use of bass line notation, implying a continuo realization, instead of complete tablature as accompaniment for lute song in Jacobean England, after about 1610. Although the lute was to remain the accompanying instrument of choice, other instruments, theorbos for example, could now replace it, depending on the situation. It is not clear when the theorbo was first used in England but the great architect, stage designer and masque producer Inigo Jones has been mentioned as having brought the first one back from a journey to Italy before 1605. The new Italian vocal music came from different sources: Robert Dowland printed Caccini's Amarilli in his Musical Banquet in 1610 and Angelo Notari published his Prime Nuove Musiche (per cantare con la tiorba…) in London in 1613. Its declamatory style became particularly popular in the context of Jones' masque: an extravagant art form as Stuart propaganda, combining grandiose theatre effects dance and 'operatic' singing, often accompanied by a consort of plucked instruments.

    “New years expect new gifts: sister, your harp 

     Lute, lyre, theorbo, are all called today….”

in the words of playwright Ben Jonson, who collaborated with Indigo Jones in producing the masques. 

Robert Johnson was one of the first composers to write a declamatory type of ayre with just a continuo line. Beside his duties at court, where he was appointed lutenist in 1604, he wrote for the theatre. From 1611 onwards he became involved in several masque productions  for which he provided some delightful dance music. Four Almains for solo lute are included here. The last one, known as the Prince's Almain, was later arranged by William Brade for his five-part collection of predominantly English dance music (Hamburg, 1617). 

The versatile Nicholas Lanier became lutenist to the King's Musick in 1616 but had already composed vocal music for a masque by Thomas Campion, in which he also sang, in 1613. He wrote music for several masques by Ben Jonson and also collaborated with Robert Johnson. At the accession of Charles I he was appointed the first Master of the King's Musick. As an art connoisseur he was involved in the purchase of many pictures, formerly the Duke of Mantua's, some of which are still in the royal collection. His three visits to Italy between 1625 and 1628 connected with this enterprise, brought him into contact with the latest musical developments there. Lanier was an innovator of English song, writing declamatory song and the first English recitative: Hero and Leander, inspired by laments by Claudio Monteverdi and Sigismondo d'India. He also adopted the Italian ground bass over which a varied vocal line is repeated several times. A good example is No more shall meads be deck'd with flowers on a poem by the cavalier poet Thomas Carew.

Henry Lawes was the leading English songwriter in the middle of the 17e century. No less than 433 of his songs have survived. He became a member of the Chapel Royal in 1626 and one of Charles I's musicians for the lutes and voices in 1631. He must have taken part in many court masques of the 1630 's. Although Lawes is mentioned by John Playford as having been teaching vocal technique for many years, French influences, triple-time dance formula's in particular, are also recognizable in his songs.

Lute playing in England had been dominated by French composers since the late 1620's and the most important lutenist at court was the colourful Jacques Gautier, a friend of Lawes, who managed to seduce his royal pupil, Queen Henriëtta Maria by his thundering way of playing. Gautier's Courantes were the sort of lute pieces with which Lawes was familiar. Henry Lawes' main source of inspiration came from his intensive contact with the group of cavalier poets at court. The pastoral themes in their poetry often reflect real events, as in Henry Hughes' Amintor's welladay, probably on the Queen's departure for the continent, either to raise money for Charles in 1642 or finally in 1644. Amarillis by a spring and Sleep soft, you cold clay cinders are very different from the lyric grace one finds in Johnson and Lanier. Lawes uses a style imitating speech, in which rests and rhythm underline the meaning of the verse. I'm not the first one to quote John Milton's famous tribute to Lawes of 1648:

Harry whose tunefull and well-measur'd song first taught our English how to span words with just note and accent, not to scan with Midas eares, committing short and long.

Lawes' lament for Ariadne is a great example of this. This long monologue exhibits a very different mood from Lanier's Hero and Leander which has an obvious Italian feel with its dramatic exclamations, but has probably been affected by it. Henry Lawes set the long poem by William Cartwright in a more delicate way, carefully following the text and its arguments in a series of connected strophes. The so- called Epitaph where at one point Ariadne breaks off in the middle of a sentence: “Thus then I- But look! O mine eyes” in the original poem is remarkable. Lawes almost supplies the missing word by adding 'f', presumably 'fall'. 

The sophisticated world of the cavalier poets and their favourite composer, Henry Lawes, came to an end with the civil war, which led to the execution of Charles I in 1649. The next ten years, the period of Oliver Cromwell's Commonwealth, were devastating for English musical institutions. In 1646 Nicholas Lanier had left England for the Low Countries, 'old, unhappy in a manner of exile…'.

With the Restoration of the monarchy and the coronation of Charles II in 1660, a new generation of musicians, representing a different musical style much influenced by the French tastes of the new king, became prominent. 

Pelham Humfrey, who probably studied in France with Jean-Batiste Lully, was one of them. The diarist Samuel Pepys, after a dinner in 1667, called him 'an absolute Monsieur, as full of form and confidence and vanity, and disparages everything and everybody's skill but his own…', a rising star obviously. He composed for the Chapel Royal, the Private Music and for the theatre.

In 1672 he was appointed Master of the Children of the Chapel Royal where he taught the choristers violin, lute and theorbo, his pupils including the young Henry Purcell. Humfrey's solo songs performed here are light, witty and, as in How severe is forgetful old age, like dance songs in triple-time. O love, if even thou'lt ease a heart is a theatre song from John Crowne's History of Charles VIII of France (1671). The declamatory opening of Cupid once when weary grown recalls the style of Lawes, although it is followed by a light-hearted triple time section. 

Henry Purcell's light songs, like the ones in a Scottish vein included here, owe much to Humfrey's style. In sadder mood Purcell is unsurpassed. If grief has any pow'r and Farewell, all joys are embedded in the sort of melancholy that had been a strong feature of English music and poetry since late Elizabethan and Jacobean times. Endless tears had been shed since then....

For many, Purcell's genius is summed up in his well-known Music for a while. This song, on an exciting ground-bass, was written for Oedipus (1678) by Nathaniel Lee and John Dryden. Purcell's music was probably composed for the 1692 revival. By then he must already have been hailed as the English Orpheus, as was testified later by his publisher Henry Playford in the foreword to Orpheus Brittannicus (1698):

The Author's extraordinary Talents in all sorts of Musick is sufficiently known, but he was especially admir'd  for the Vocal, having a peculiar genius to express the Energy of English words, whereby he mov'd the passions of all his Auditors.

  • 1
    Have You Seen But the Bright Lily Grow
  • 2
    Woods, Rocks and Mountains
  • 3
    With Endless Tears
  • 4
    Come Hither You That Love
  • 5
    Come, Heavy Sleep
  • 6
  • 7
    The Prince's Almain
  • 8
    Mark How the Blushful Morn
  • 9
    I Wish No More
  • 10
    No More Shall Meads Be Deck'd
  • 11
  • 12
  • 13
    Amarillis By a Spring
  • 14
    Amintor's welladay
  • 15
    Sleep Soft, You Cold Clay Cinders
  • 16
    Chloris Dead, Lamented By Amintor
  • 17
  • 18
  • 19
    Ariadne's lament
  • 20
  • 21
  • 22
    Cupid Once, When Weary Grown
  • 23
    Oh! That I Had But a Fine Man
  • 24
    O Love, If E're Thou'lt Ease a Heart
  • 25
    How Severe Is Forgetful Old Age
  • 26
    If Grief Has Any Pow'r
  • 27
    When First Amintas Sued for a Kiss
  • 28
    Music for a While
  • 29
    Farewell, All Joys!