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Thomas Tomkins: These Distracted Times

Thomas Tomkins: These Distracted Times

Ref: CD702

17 tracks 68 min
Clcik here to preview trk 7

The political intrigue of the early 17th century culminated with the execution of Charles I in 1649 and the beginning of the Commonwealth led by the Lord Protector Oliver Cromwell. Thomas Tomkins, the greatest composer of that age, wrote a pavan for ‘these distracted times’ shortly after the King’s execution. This CD provides a mixture of Tomkin’s church and chamber music that soothed troubled souls during these turbulent years. The recording was made in the chapel of Sidney Sussex College, Cambridge, where Cromwell was a student and where his severed head remains.

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Thomas Tomkins
These Distracted Times

1. Pavan I (3’15)
2. Almighty God, the fountain
of all wisdom (5’24)
3. Hear my prayer, O Lord (4’28)
4. The heavens declare (2’56)
5. Te Deum (The Fifth Service) (7’37)
6. A Fancy (3’11)
7. Jubilate (The Fifth Service) (5’08)
8. O Lord, how manifold (1’52)
9. Pavan VII (3’37)
10. I heard a voice from heaven (1’45)
11. Magnificat (The Fifth Service) (5’24)
12. Pavan ‘for these distracted times’ (3’07)
13. Nunc dimittis (The Fifth Service) (2’50)
14. Pavan VIII (3’34)
15. Remember me, O Lord (2’38)
16. When David heard (3’58)
17. My help cometh from the Lord (4’56)
Total time (66’54)

Richard Boothby, Richard Campbell,
Wendy Gillespie, Bill Hunt,
Asako Morikawa, Susanna Pell,
Richard Tunnicliffe

Steven Harrold, TENOR,
Christopher Watson, TENOR,
Timothy Scott Whiteley, BARITONE,
Robert Macdonald, BASS
Directed by David Skinner
Jamal Sutton, ORGAN

P & C2007 Classical Communications Ltd
Made in Great Britain

Cover image: Oliver Cromwell, pastel, from the workshop of Sir Peter Lely
Recorded in the Chapel of Sidney Sussex College, Cambridge, 11th–14th June 2007
by kind permission of the Master and Fellows
Produced and Engineered by Martin Souter
Performing editions by David Skinner

Although the cannon, and the churlish drum
Have struck the choir mute, and the organs dumb,
Yet music's art, with air and string and voice,
Makes glad the sad, and sorrow to rejoice.
(Henry Lawes, The Treasury of Musick, 1669)

On 30 January 1649 King Charles I was led to a purpose-built scaffold in front of the Banqueting House at Whitehall Palace, and was there decapitated. Two weeks later Thomas Tomkins put pen to paper and wrote a pavan for 'these distracted times'. Tomkins was both a Gentleman of the king's Chapel Royal, and organist of Worcester Cathedral where church services had been suspended since 1647 when parliamentary forces led by Oliver Cromwell seized the city. Tomkins, then, was lamenting not only the death of the King but the end, as he saw it, of cathedral music. Cromwell was known to have been a great admirer of English chamber music, but, according to puritan leanings of the time, organs and choirs had no place in the church: they were themselves seen as 'distractions' from prayer, study, and meditation. The only church music to have flourished during Cromwell's time as Lord Protector was the sober and simple metrical psalm, a form that had its roots in the Edwardine reformation one hundred years previously.

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