THE SPY'S CHOIRBOOK released in October 2014
The sumptuous and richly illuminated choir-book, Royal 8.G.vii, is widely acknowledged as one of the finest early 16th-century musical manuscripts in the British Library. It was produced in the workshop of Petrus Alamire, who was head of one of the greatest musical scriptoriums in all of Europe, and the source of a great number of royal diplomatic gifts. Alamire was not only a scribe and musician, but also a mining engineer, merchant and diplomat. Between 1515 and 1518 he travelled to London as a spy for Henry VIII against Richard de la Pole, the then pretender to the English throne. Alamire was aided by a Flemish sackbut player, and certainly early brass instruments travelled with him to London on at least one occasion. The book was probably given to Henry VIII in 1516 as one of the several musical gifts from Alamire to the Henry VIII.
It is certainly the most luxurious of the surviving diplomatic gifts to the Tudor court from the 16th century, and contains 28 Latin motets as well as six works on texts from Virgil’s Aeneid by the finest Continental composers of the age, including Josquin Desprez, Antoine de Févin, Jean Mouton, Heinrich Isaac; well over half the compositions are anonymous and most have never been performed in modern times.
Alamire is joined by the English Cornett & Sackbut Ensemble.
(Obsidian Records, 2014)
Alamire Press Office