Motets, anthems, fantasias and voluntaries

Gibbons, Christopher (1615-1676)

Academy of Ancient Music

Choir of the AAM

Richard Egarr director & keyboards

Year: 2012
Catalogue: HMU 807551

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About this album

The world-premiere recording of choral and instrumental music by the long-neglected Christopher Gibbons, second son of the famous Orlando. Featuring the Choir of the AAM (who make their recording debut), this disc surveys the broad expressive palette of a composer who provides the "missing link between the pre-Commonwealth world of William Lawes and the Restoration baroquerie of Henry Purcell".

"Beautifully played and sung... the instrumental pieces are wonderfully imaginative, but it's the choral works that stand out with their startling modulations and expressively charged vocal lines."


Discovering Gibbons: Richard Egarr on unearthing neglected masterpieces

"It was about 15 years ago. As I was gently reading through the magnificent diary of Samuel Pepys, I noted again and again references to a great keyboard master 'Mr.Gibbons'. I was fully aware of the music sung by Orlando Gibbons, whose music I had sung and known since the age of eight as a chorister at York Minster. The Gibbons of Pepys could not be Orlando, who died decades before the diary was written. Curiousity duly peaked, I quickly discovered that this famous mid-seventeenth-century Gibbons was Christopher, Orlando's son. Why, if he was indeed so feted in Pepys' lifetime, had I not come across his music?

"During the course of the next years I began digging for information and looking for scores. To my huge surprise there was practically nothing: one dissertation from 1963 and less than a handful of Fantasias for viols. Further rummaging after receipt of the dissertation fuelled ardour and increased my amazement: there was a large repertoire of music by this composer - anthems, fantasies, fantasy-suites and keyboard music. Was this music so uninteresting that it wasn't worthy of attention? Was that the reason it lay undisturbed in Oxford and London libraries? I ordered microfilms of all the music and discovered a master-composer of great personality and genius. I first put on a concert of his music in 1999 in Amsterdam, and have been airing it ever since that time. It is extraordinary music of great emotional power, and there are real masterpieces.

"I am therefore extremely proud to present with the AAM a selection of music by this forgotten Master - music that has not been heard, except on the few occasions I have performed it over the past 13 years, for over three centuries."



Named in top 100 recordings of 2012 by PRESTO CLASSICAL (more info)

"This Academy of Ancient Music selection of his anthems, organ voluntaries and string fantasias (none recorded before) is a personal crusade by Richard Egarr and shows what we’ve been missing: harmonic twists and word-painting almost as daring as Gesualdo’s; lilting refrains that suggest Monteverdi; quicksilver mood changes." ★ ★ ★ ★

The Times

"The instrumental pieces are wonderfully imaginative, but it's the choral works that stand out with their startling modulations and expressively charged vocal lines. The finest of them starts the disc: the eight-part Not Unto Us, with its building layers of counterpoint, seems to open out into a musical space so vast it's hard to believe the whole anthem lasts fewer than five minutes." ★ ★ ★ ★

The Guardian

External Reviews