You’ve all heard the work of Christopher Tye, even though he died before 1573 — he wrote the hymn Winchester Old, the basis for one of those songs we all love around December, While Shepherds Watched Their Flocks.
We meant to review this album for Christmas but hey ho (ho ho ho) we never did, but it’s a nice album at any time of year.
Only a small percentage of Tye’s output survives, and he ceased composing when he became a clergyman, returning to Ely Cathedral and later becoming rector of Doddington, Cambridgeshire, one of the largest parishes in England.
Boreas Quartet play recorders, hewn from maple and copied from Renaissance designs; don’t tell anyone but for the first play, we thought this was a church organ, delicately played. Our error but it gives you an idea of the sound — churchy and delicate.
The sleeve notes say the music was composed to be played in intimate surroundings rather than to a large crowd. That also probably explains the similar sound of all the pieces; this is not music to impress and stir an audience, but to charm and relax a small gathering. It’s as pleasing today as it was then.
Talking of howlers: on the sleeve “Christopher Tye” appears to be actually Edward (later King, the sixth of his name) as Prince of Wales, at least according to Wikipedia.
Out now CPO 7778972.