Thursday, October 19, 2017

English suites no. 9

A fairly well-known suite by an otherwise obscure composer, Peter Warlock's Capriol Suite is from a favorite genre of mine, 20th-century retellings of much older music. It's a selection of French Renaissance dances from the collection of Thoinot Arbeau, faithfully transcribed, but with touches of orchestration that make it Warlock's own, particularly in spicing it up. For instance, that pungent chord at 0.12 is intentional, and not the result of the players' wobbliness, which I chose this performance in spite of, preferring the vigor and energy of this rendition above others. There's a lot more pungent dissonance in the finale.

The very brief movements are Basse-Danse (0:00), Pavane (1:24), Tordion (3:26), Bransles (4:33), Pieds-en-l'air (6:37), and Mattachins (Sword Dance) (9:30).

Literary authors writing under pen names is fairly common, and not just among women hiding as men: Mark Twain, O. Henry, George Orwell, Cordwainer Smith ... But though there have been musical forgeries from time to time, Peter Warlock is the only composer of any note I can think of who was a pen name. The choice of name either reflected his interest in the occult or didn't, depending on who you read; his legal name, Philip Heseltine, he used only on his critical and scholarly writings, in which he specialized in studying Renaissance music.

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