Originally conceived as a programme for the Edinburgh Fringe, ‘The Thistle & The Rose’ celebrates the wealth and beauty of folk-inspired music to come out of Scotland and England in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. The boundary between folk and art music at this time was often blurred, as composers wove folk melodies into new works, as heard in the delightful Airs for the Seasons, 96 violin sonatas by James Oswald, a Scottish composer who spent much of his life in London. Divisions (sets of variations) were written on many popular tunes and bass lines of the day, including Farnaby's Daphne, Greensleeves to a Ground, and Tollett's Ground - incidentally the only Irish tune to sneak its way into this recording, by virtue of its inclusion in the first part of The Division Flute, an English publication of 1706.
Many collections of traditional songs were made, perhaps most notable among them John Playford's The English Dancing Master and the Scots Musical Museum, compiled by Edinburgh publisher James Johnson and the renowned poet and musician Robert Burns; in addition, new folk songs were still being composed, and new lyrics written to older melodies, such as the hauntingly beautiful ‘Bess and her Spinning Wheel’ and ‘Mary Queen of Scots Lament’.
Both Scotland and England attracted musicians from the continent, and there is an especially strong connection between Scottish and Italian baroque music, as Italians like Matteis encountered Scots music in Edinburgh and further afield. Links between Scotland and London were also strong, with Scots composers being lured south by the prospect of patronage surrounding the royal court.
Composing was, however, by no means the preserve of the ‘professionals’ - Tobias Hume was a soldier with a passion for the viol, and Ignatius Sancho a man of letters and the first black man to vote in England - yet both made valuable contributions to the musical legacy of their times.
Fleuri Formed in 2002 at the Royal College of Music, where they were winners of the Century Fund Prize for Early Music. Specialising in the repertoire of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, the ensemble’s members share a passion for the music of Handel’s London and folk-inspired baroque music from across the British Isles and Eire. They have given concerts in many historic venues, including Windsor Castle, Handel House and Cobham Hall, Kent, and have appeared in the London Handel Festival, Chester Summer Festival and the Edinburgh Fringe. The Thistle and the Rose remains their most popular programme, and was the natural choice for this, their first full-length CD. To find out more about Fleuri, their programmes and future concerts, please visit their website.