Capriol Maximize


Composer: Peter Warlock (1894-1930) 
Arranger: John Humphries 
Instrumentation: Brass Quintet: 2 Trumpets in Bb, French Horn, Trombone and Tuba) 
Performance Time: 13:00
Price: $15.00

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  • 1. Basse-Danse
  • 2. Pavane
  • 3. Tordion
  • 4. Bransles
  • 5. Pieds-en-l’air
  • 6. Mattachins (Sword Dance) 

    “Peter Warlock” is the colourful pseudonym adopted by the English composer and musicologist, Philip Heseltine, when he published his first article on music in 1916. He had had no formal musical training but developed an interest in the subject after his uncle introduced him to Frederick Delius in 1907 and during his teenage years began to compose, publishing his first works in 1919. 

    By 1925, Warlock had earned a reputation as an authority on Renaissance music and in this capacity was asked to write a preface to a translation of a 16th Century treatise on dancing, Thoinot Arbeau’s Orchésographie. This takes the form of a dialogue between Arbeau and an imaginary pupil named “Capriol”, and it is this which Warlock recalled in October 1926 when he composed a set of six pieces based on tunes in the volume. The Capriol Suite is no mere pastiche of Renaissance music, however, and while Arbeau would have identified with its spirit and some of its procedures, its dissonances and smooth chromatic harmonies give it the unmistakeable stamp of the early 20th Century. 

    Renaissance instrumental music was based strongly on contemporary vocal styles and composers did not, therefore, usually specify the instrumentation of their works. Those who did made explicit the freedom which players had in deploying their instruments: in 1599 the English composer Anthony Holborne wrote that his Pavans, Galliards, Almains and other short Aeirs were suitable for “Viols, Violins or Other Musicall Winde Instruments.” Warlock originally wrote the Capriol Suite for strings but the instrumental parts are as adaptable as their Renaissance predessors and I have tried to retain the flavour of Elizabethan English music in this transcription for brass “musicall winde instruments”. 

    © John Humphries