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RecordingsIn a Strange Land

The Scotsman enjoys ‘In a Strange Land’

Ken Walton, The Scotsman (January 14th, 2019)

The “Strange Land” referred to is that period of religious uncertainty in England between Henry VIII’s break with Rome in 1534 and the Stewart reign of James I (IV of Scotland) up to the 1620s. Church musicians – which most composers were – experienced the uncertainty of Henry’s nascent Protestantism, the knee jerk radicalism of Edward VI’s reign, the retrenchment to Catholicism under Mary I, then the move to a more tolerant Protestantism under Elizabeth I and the establishment of Anglicanism under James. Stile Antico concentrate here on the English Catholic composers, who either moved to Europe in fear of persecution or stayed put and toed the line. They sing with glowing perfection and textural precision, as befits such polyphonic masterpieces as Byrd’s Tristitia et anxietas, [Dering’s] Monteverdian Factum est silentium and Dowland’s Flow, my tears. There’s also one 20th [21st!] century work, Huw Watkins’ The Phoenix and the Turtle. *****