Bjarte Eike & Barokksolistene – The Alehouse Sessions (2017)
FLAC (tracks) 24 bit/48 kHz | Time – 54:02 minutes | 595 MB | Genre: Classical
Studio Masters, Official Digital Download – Source: Qobuz | Digital Booklet | © RUBICON
The English pub has, since centuries, been the English people’s second home. In these establishments one would meet to eat, drink, and sleep, but, especially after Cromwell’s dark years of ultra-puritanism – i.e. 1660 –, one would also hold political meetings, gambling events and lots, lots of music. Before 1660, most music-making in pubs would have been dominated by drinking songs, bawdy catches and ballads, and simple instrumental music played by fiddlers and fifers. With the outbreak of the English Civil War in 1642, the music masters of London’s churches and courts were scattered and left to fend for themselves. Some went to the countryside, serving as light entertainment for the aristocracy; some joined the military; and some became teachers, but with the closing of all theatres during Cromwell’s times, most of the musicians ended up living rootless lives that descended into little more than begging. With all the professional musicians, singers, and actors now entering the pubs and joining in with the locals in musical sessions, one saw a significant rise in the quality of music-making with the result being that these “alehouse sessions” grew in popularity across the classes. However, even with the re-opening of theatres and building of new opera houses after the Restoration, the popularity of the alehouse sessions didn’t die out. Music became enormously popular in 17th- and 18th-century London, yet there were no orchestras that offered steady jobs. This meant that London was bulging with freelance musicians, who would one moment be sitting amid beer glasses and a loud audience, playing at one of the informal and highly popular concerts in one of the many taverns and alehouses, and the next participating in one of the large charity concerts, before rushing off to join one of the opera performances at venues like the King’s Theatre in the Haymarket. The ensemble Alhouse Sessions has launched its project in 2007, as a concert form where the music found in the English public houses during and after the Commonwealth was explored. That would be a mix of compositions, traditional tunes and arrangements of popular songs. Composed music – from Purcell onwards – became folk music and folk music – often rather bawdy or sentimental folk tunes – became compositions. The music of the Alehouse Sessions fits within the historical frames of the English public house, even though the tone may sometimes remind the listener to some Anglo-Saxon folk-pop music. Furthermore, several tunes hail from overseas, as far as North America, Scandinavia, Scotland, Ireland and the Shetlands. We’ll never know, of course, how things sounded three or four centuries ago, but Alehouse Sessions goes out on a limb to restore that kind of musical language.
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