Musick’s Recreation: Seventeenth-century English music for lute and viol

I went to this concert last night because a friend had an extra
ticket. It’s the first concert on this
, and I recommend you check them out. You can catch the
same concerts at
the Somerville Museum

Carol Lewis, viols, and Chris
are married, and have been performing together for
several decades. It’s a nice combination, because both
instruments can be used either solo or as accompaniment, and both
performers are good at both roles.

Last night’s concert was about the lute and viol music people
in London were playing during the tumultuous years of the early Stuarts,
the Commonwealth under Cromwell, and the Restoration. Chris said
he’d done a lot of music from this period before, but always
looked at it from the point of view of what was happening at
court. This time, he realized that London was at that time one of
the few places in Europe (Hamburg was another) where there was a
thriving music scene independant of the court, with nobles and
even well-off commoners paying professional performers and
composers for lessons on viol, lute and guitar.

A lot of these same composers also wrote for recorder, so I was
familiar with a lot of the names. One revelation was a composer
named Thomas Mace (ca. 1612 — 1684), who wrote one of the
latest lute method books, Musicke’s Monument in
1676. The Saraband that Chris played from that was
the jazziest piece on the program.

I really enjoyed the music; both performers are very good;
I wish they got a slightly more animated audience. I couldn’t see
anyone else laughing at the jokes in this extremely witty music,
and several audience members were clearly asleep.

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