Michael East (1580-1648) was an English composer and
organist, working at Ely, and later Lichfield cathedrals.
He published seven books of his compositions, making him
one of the most published composers of his time, and all of
them contain music for viols and voices. East wrote a set of
eight 5-part fantasias for viols. They are unusual because
each has a Latin title, beginning with Desperavi, moving
through Peccavi, Penitet, Triumphavi, and ending with
Amavi. It seems likely that the pieces were conceived as a
set, but they are rarely performed as such This disc includes
them all. East's Fourth book was published in 1618, four
hundred years ago this year, and it is from here that most
of our vocal items are taken. The title page reads:
The Fourth Set of Bookes, wherein are anthemes for versus and chorus, madrigals,
and songs of other kindes, to 4. 5. and 6. parts: apt for viols and voyces
Most of the verse anthems in our programme come from this book and have been chosen, like the other vocal items, to compliment the subject of the preceding fantasia. Other pieces are from East’s 1610 collection, and we also include ‘Hence Stars', East's contribution to The Triumphs of Oriana published by Thomas Morley in 1601.
We are very excited to have commissioned a new piece by composer Jill Jarman to sum up the journey of the fantasias from Desperavi to Amavi. Four hundred years after East's own 1618 book for voices and viols, Jill is setting a verse by the poet Sir Henry Wotton, whose words East uses elsewhere in his output, and which perfectly encapsulate the journey from Despair to Love.
Recording took place in August, and we are eagerly awaiting the final edits - watch this space!! You can hear sneak previews here: