Ein guter neuer Dantz

Renaissance dance music: 1577-1629

During the Christmas and New Year period 2016-17 I found myself playing the organ at a variety of venues here and there across London. As part of my seasonal  offering I decided to try out a newly acquired set of nine renaissance-era dances edited for keyboard by Hans Haselböck under the title Ein guter neuer Dantz (Wiesbaden: Breitkopf & Härtel, 1989). I was pleasantly surprised by the number of people who having heard these little pieces came up to me both to comment how much they enjoyed them and to ask about them. So, without more ado, here below are the basic details and some basic home-made recordings of them.

Keyboards: Andrew Pink's practice organ.
Keyboards: Andrew Pink’s practice organ.

The instrument used here is my own practice organ, which for this project is tuned to a period-appropriate quarter-comma meantime (pure thirds) temperament, set lower than present-day concert pitch at A-427. The pieces, as they are published, are either in G or F and make playful use of  of F\F-sharp and C\C-sharp contrasts, which add spice to the already piquant quarter-comma temperament.

However, despite such talk of temperament and pitch, I lay no claim to an historically informed style in presenting these brief and unpretentious dance-pieces but hope that you too might find something to enjoy in them.


1.
Intrada, anonymous (1593) played by Andrew Pink © 2017
Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International (CC BY-NC 4.0)

2.
Ein guter neuer Dantz, anonymous (1577) played by Andrew Pink © 2017
Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International (CC BY-NC 4.0)

3.
Tanz, was wohn wir uff den Abend thun, anonymous (1577) played by Andrew Pink © 2017
Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International (CC BY-NC 4.0)

4.
Daunce, anonymous , from the Fitzwilliam Virginal Book  (late c16) played by Andrew Pink © 2017
Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International (CC BY-NC 4.0)

5.
Corranto, anonymous, from the Fitzwilliam Virginal Book  (late c.16) played by Andrew Pink © 2017
Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International (CC BY-NC 4.0)

6.
Churf. Sachs. Witwen Erster Mummerey Tanz (1598) by August Nörmiger (c.1560-1613) played by Andrew Pink © 2017
Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International (CC BY-NC 4.0)

7.
Der Mohren Auftzugkh (1598) August Nörmiger (c.1560-1613) played on the organ by Andrew Pink © 2017
Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International (CC BY-NC 4.0)

8.
Ungarescha (1603) by Jacob Paix (1556-c.1623) played on the organ by Andrew Pink © 2017
Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International (CC BY-NC 4.0)

9.
Bassa Imperiale (1629) anonymous, played on the organ by Andrew Pink © 2017
Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International (CC BY-NC 4.0)

From Friday Street to Finsbury Park

St Thomas the Apostle, Finsbury Park, London N4

Tucked away in an undistinguished later-nineteenth-century suburb of north London is the Anglican parish church of St Thomas the Apostle, Finsbury Park. The areas will be known to many as the home of the Arsenal Football Club whose former Highbury Stadium (1913-2006) was close by the church. The football club’s new Emirates Stadium (2006) is located a little further away to the south west. The former stadium site is now a housing estate named Highbury Square.

The parish of St Thomas the Apostle was formed out of the surrounding Islington parish in 1888 and owes its origin to a decision by the Ecclesiastical Commissioners to sell-off a number of churches in the City of London (Union of Benefices Act, 1860).  The reason for the sales was that the burgeoning London suburbs had been rapidly emptying the City of its population and in order to defray the cost of the new suburban churches a number of underused City churches were sold.  St Thomas’s church was paid for by the sale of St Matthew’s Church, Friday Street for £22,005, the advowson of the new parish being held by the Archbishop of Canterbury.

The new church building of St Thomas the Apostle cost £7,500 and was the work of Ewan Christian (1814–95), architect to the Ecclesiastical Commissioners. It is built of brick and stone in Christian’s favourite Early English style and was consecrated in 1889. It consists of chancel (with a sedila of Derbyshire marble), nave (with arcades in blue stone), aisles, a chapel at the east end of the south aisle, baptistery, organ chamber, north and south porches and a turret.

The church building is largely unaltered since it was opened in 1889 and despite its small scale and modest appearance is – once inside – quite lovely and spacious in feeling. It is well maintained and well used. In the 1990s the chancel and sanctuary were redecorated in a period style by the English muralist Alan Dodd (b.1944).

The pipe organ is original to the building, installed in 1889 by the (now defunct) local firm of Alfred Monk. Inevitably, after nearly 130 years of constant use the organ is now rather tired and in need of some mechanical refreshment, for which fundraising is underway. Even so, while this is no recital instrument it has a strong clear sound and continues to serve the parish well in accompanying the liturgy.

 

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