The English composer Michael East (1580-1648) wrote a set of eight 5-part fantasias for viols, acclaimed by musicologist Thurston Dart as being 'among the best five-part consorts of the time'. They are unusual in that each has a Latin title, beginning with Desperavi, moving through Peccavi, Vidi, Penitet, Credidi, Vixi and Triumphavi, and ending with Amavi. We are aiming to record the complete set, and to complement the fantasias with pieces for voices and viols from East's 1618 and 1610 publications.
To sum up the journey from despair (Desperavi) to love (Amavi) the disc will conclude with a new commission by composer Jill Jarman, taking a verse from a poem by Sir Henry Wotton whose work East sets elsewhere. There is something incredibly exciting about a piece written specifically for us, exactly 400 years after the publication of the 1618 book from which several pieces on this disc come.
Chelys Consort of Viols have garnered a reputation for their faithful yet fresh interpretations of the viol consort repertoire. Gramophone said of their recent disc of Dowland with Dame Emma Kirkby 'if you are looking for the most beautiful recording of the Lachrimae this is unquestionably it'. The consort's first disc was the complete recording of Christopher Simpson's Aires for two treble and two bass viol with continuo - which Early Music Review described as 'played with passion, precision and brilliance'. Michael East's fantasias have a decidedly vocal quality, with more than a hint of Italian madrigal-like drama, so it seems appropriate that Chelys should collaborate with a vocal consort whose passion is for Italian vocal repertoire.
Fieri Consort has been presenting exquisite music in beautiful locations across the UK for over five years. Founded by singers out of the first Genesis Sixteen training programme, Fieri has built a reputation for delivering emotional, musically intelligent, and technically secure performances, specialising in music from 16th and 17th century Italy. Fieri’s first CD, Tears of a Lover, was released in 2017 to great acclaim, featuring as BBC Music Magazine's choral album of the month, and their second CD will be available from Autumn 2018, featuring stunning Italian madrigals with English texts, taken from Musica Transalpina, alongside a heart-wrenchingly beautiful new commission by composer Benjamin Rowarth.
The work of composer Jill Jarman has been described as '...Art music with jazz waywardness...' (Swedish Dagbladet), recent commissions including the double concerto Mindstream for Evelyn Glennie and Hugo Ticiatti with the O/mordant chamber orchestra. In 2013 Chelys thoroughly enjoyed working with Jill on her piece Revelation for four viols and four voices for the London Festival of Contemporary Church Music, and are thrilled that she is writing for this project - the first draft is looking exciting...!
It seems almost unbelievable that a collection as fine as East's 5-part fantasias is not better known, and also that very little of his beautiful writing for voices and viols has been recorded. This project is unique in seeking to rectify both of these things, but ambitious in scale because it involves in total six viols and seven voices, which is a bigger project than either ensemble has ever tried to co-ordinate or fund before - and this is where we need your help! The budget for the whole project includes recording and rehearsal costs of producer, sound engineer, artist fees, new writing commission and rehearsal. The total budget for the recording is in the region of £25,000, and we have so far raised £15,000 from the generous support of Angel Early Music and two private donors. A couple of smaller applications are pending, and we are seeking £10,000 from this crowdfunding appeal to bring our hive of creative planning into existence! If we exceed the total budget required for recording then we will be able to subsidise the cost of putting on concerts of this repertoire so audiences can hear it at its best - live!
So a huge thank you in advance for your generosity, from Chelys and Fieri (and Michael East!).