Posted on 16 October 2015
The film's director Tony Britten explains the project: "John Wilbye, considered the greatest of the Elizabethan madrigalists, spent his entire working life in the service of Sir Thomas and Lady Elizabeth Kytson at Hengrave Hall in Suffolk. This was not unusual – composers in the sixteenth century either worked for the Church or one of the great households. What is unusual is that after Wilbye’s second book of madrigals was published in 1609 he appears not to have composed anything else, yet Lady Elizabeth kept him on in the house until her death in 1628, showering him with gifts including the tenancy of the most prosperous sheep farm in the area."
Wilbye's two books of madrigals are the heart of the English madrigal repertoire including such 'hits' as Weep, O mine eyes, Sweet honey-sucking bees and the ravishing six-part Draw on, sweet night.
To record the soundtrack, I Fagiolini eschewed the resonant acoustic 'traditionally' used in recordings of Renaissance music and went to a dry studio to recreate the likely acoustics of a Jacobean room. The results are a clearer sound picture and a more intimate attention to words.