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CD REVIEWS; The Dulcet Sounds of Sales Pitches From 17th-Century Streets

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  • Terry Foreman
    Folks, This has been out for a while, but I do not find news of it having been sent around. - Terry aka Terry F ... June 11, 2006 CD REVIEWS; The Dulcet Sounds
    Message 1 of 2 , Aug 5, 2007
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      Folks,

      This has been out for a while, but I do not find news of it having been
      sent around.

      - Terry
      aka Terry F

      -----------------

      June 11, 2006
      CD REVIEWS; The Dulcet Sounds of Sales Pitches From 17th-Century Streets
      By BERNARD HOLLAND


      The Cries of London
      Theater of Voices; Fretwork. Harmonia Mundi France HMU 907214; CD.

      THE recent howls of anguish over the prospect of live advertising in the
      theater might be softened a little if enough people hear the new CD ''The
      Cries of London'' from Harmonia Mundi France. Sales pitches captured on the
      streets of early- to mid-17th-century England were organized into musical
      form by eminences like Orlando Gibbons and Thomas Weelkes as well as the
      slightly lesser lights William Cobbold and especially Richard Dering, who
      to my ears is the star of the show.

      Obnoxious men with mops on low-rent cable television stations had clear
      counterparts in London 400 years ago. Whether you want your salesmanship
      coming at you one product at a time, as it does now, or tripping over its
      neighbors, as it did then, is up to you. Making one's way on foot through
      such a great, wriggling wall of hard sell must have been hair-raising, but
      sitting by loudspeakers at home, one can easily be charmed by this
      calculated confusion in counterpoint..

      The vocal ensemble here is the Theater of Voices. Fretworks tends to the
      instrumental side. Both are first rate. The singers work hard to adopt
      working-class British vowel sounds and to project with a raucous, strident
      tone when appropriate. To fill this release out to 11 items, Harmonia Mundi
      has inserted instrumental interludes by Gibbons and Dering, ''Verse
      Pastorals'' by Michael East and ''The Three Ravens,'' a ballad by Thomas
      Ravenscroft.

      Seventeenth-century England had a lot for sale. In Gibbons's two-part
      ''Cries of London,'' fresh haddock, white parsnips, oysters, silk garters,
      ''a fair scarf'' and old boots emerge willy-nilly from the composer's
      sophisticated imitative counterpoint. Gibbons occasionally curls his lip in
      sarcasm at the lower orders by including lost-and-found items like a
      three-legged horse, luridly injured, and ''a young wench of 4 and 40 years.''

      Services are also on sale. Maybe a tinker for hire. Or do you want your
      chimney swept? Rats and mice cheerfully eliminated for a price. Chop your
      wood, sir? In ''The City Cries'' and ''The Country Cries,'' Dering lays out
      texts, often on single tones, resolved by cadences or interrupted abruptly.
      He also plays the town crier who announces the hour, bids you good night
      when you have stayed up too late and provides the wake-up call.

      The co-opting of popular culture into classical forms has become a hot
      topic, given the current disillusionment with atonality. Some commentators
      look back to Haydn, Dvorak and Gershwin as models. ''The Cries of London''
      goes back a lot farther. It may not represent a major trend of that day,
      but it does show that composers have always been listening to what was
      around them.

      BERNARD HOLLAND

      http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9504EFD81431F932A25755C0A9609C8B63
    • Joel Dinda
      Ah, memories; thanks, Terry, for the reminder. The Cries of London.... My college choir (Macalester College Concert Choir, in St Paul) used the Gibbons piece
      Message 2 of 2 , Aug 17, 2007
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        Ah, memories; thanks, Terry, for the reminder. The Cries of London....

        My college choir (Macalester College Concert Choir, in St Paul) used
        the Gibbons piece as as a processional during our 1980-1981 concert
        season. We'd enter from the rear of the room with the men on one aisle
        and the women on another, effectively surrounding the listeners with
        fragmented counterpoint. 'Twas great fun, and generally shocked the
        audience. In some halls, keeping in sync was a bit of a risk, but we
        pulled it off fifteen or twenty times. Hadn't thought of it in *years.*

        Can't say we tried for authenticity, though. Our efforts were directed
        more toward sonic purity.

        Joel Dinda

        On Sun, 05 Aug 2007 17:44:14 -0500, Terry Foreman wrote:
        >
        > Folks,
        >
        > This has been out for a while, but I do not find news of it having been
        > sent around.
        >
        > - Terry
        > aka Terry F
        >
        > -----------------
        >
        > June 11, 2006
        > CD REVIEWS; The Dulcet Sounds of Sales Pitches From 17th-Century Streets
        > By BERNARD HOLLAND
        >
        >
        > The Cries of London
        > Theater of Voices; Fretwork. Harmonia Mundi France HMU 907214; CD.
        >
        > THE recent howls of anguish over the prospect of live advertising in the
        > theater might be softened a little if enough people hear the new CD ''The
        > Cries of London'' from Harmonia Mundi France. Sales pitches captured on the
        > streets of early- to mid-17th-century England were organized into musical
        > form by eminences like Orlando Gibbons and Thomas Weelkes as well as the
        > slightly lesser lights William Cobbold and especially Richard Dering, who
        > to my ears is the star of the show.
        [snipt]
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