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Music for An Elizabethan Christmas

Beverly Au, Bass Viol | Lawrence Lipnik, Tenor Viol
Rosamund Morley, Treble Viol | Lisa Terry, Bass Viol
Julianne Baird, Soprano




“Parthenia is an acclaimed NYC quartet of viols… Bracing tempos defuse the somber air often associated with viols, and picking highlights is easy... [Julianne Baird is] in prime voice... No complaints on the detailed sound; some bloom is also present. Clearly this CD shouldn’t be restricted to the holidays.”
Walt Mundkowsky, La Folia [December 2015]
“Parthenia is described by the New Yorker as ‘one of the brightest lights in the city's early-music scene' and this CD provides every reason to uphold that view with some enthusiasm. Julianne Baird has the right voice for the distinctive selection of Christmas vocal pieces, and the consort of viols give lively readings of an interesting variety of instrumental music.”
Patric Standford, Music & Vision [March 2012]
" attractive programme combining familiar and more obscure pieces arranged into a pleasing sequence full of variety and contrasts... It is a delight to have [the vocal pieces] sung by the wonderful American soprano and authority on historical singing styles, Julianne Baird. [Her] brilliant voice is a precise instrument... She is nicely supported by Parthenia Viols, whose accompaniments are sensitive to her subtly nuanced expression of the texts... A very nice stocking-filler whose interest should outlast the season"
Christopher Price, International Record Review [December 2011]
"Parthenia is a viol consort that has been making quite a critical splash and with good reason. They play brilliantly, create wonderfully apt and interesting programs, and seem to avoid a sameness of tonal qualities that shoot down similar groups... The addition of the masterly skills of Julianne Baird, who sings with a rare and considered radiance that is as good as I have ever heard her do, really makes this album. All of the selections are jewels in the crown of Christmas, and this easily ranks as the best Christmas release I have heard this year, and one of the best of the past ten. Get it—you’ll feel much better for it."
Steve Ritter, Audiophile Audition [November 2011]
"The viol playing of the four-member Parthenia is polished and expressive, while the contribution of the stellar Julianne Baird, what little there is, elevates this disc to a higher plateau. The repertoire is balanced and well chosen. The beauty of this CD is that much of the music is unrecorded and therefore unfamiliar."
Christopher Brodersen, Fanfare [September/October 2011]
"Parthenia collaborate happily with Dr. Baird. Parthenia is always creative with their [instrumental] settings... the entire CD sends us joyfully out into the cold air of the New Year."
MacDonald, VdGSA Journal [March 2011]
"what does this disc have to commend itself and stand out from the crowd? Actually, a good deal. First, the 22 selections offered here...largely manage to avoid vain repetitions of the contents of other, similar historical period albums. Second, there are the performers. Soprano Julianne Baird scarcely needs any introduction as an unsurpassed mistress of late Renaissance and Baroque music, and here she lavishes her customary pure vocal production, crystalline diction, and subtle textual inflection on the eight songs and sacred anthems allotted to her. The four-member viol consort Parthenia is equally accomplished, spinning out its instrumental lines with caressingly soft, silvery tone and polished ensemble playing... don’t overlook [this CD] it for either yourself or a gift to friends for 2011."
James A. Altena, Fanfare [March / April 2011]
"The music itself is exquisitely graceful and the performances are beyond reproach... For listeners who are looking for a beautifully performed and produced CD of Elizabethan music [this disc] perfectly fits the bill. Julianne Baird sings with a light, silvery soprano that emphasizes the gentility of the music. Her use of ornaments in pieces as familiar as the Coventry Carol is unusual, but it's done so artfully that it's completely convincing... The blend of the ensemble is flawlessly smooth and polished, and the playing is flexible and spirited. MSR Classics' sound is...clean and warm." [ * * * * / * * * * ]
Stephen Eddins, All Music Guide [October 2010]
Queen Elizabeth I of England spent much of her reign juggling to maintain her power and position and to keep England peaceful, prosperous and independent. Realizing that marriage to anyone at all would make the crown subject either to a foreign power or to a domestic faction, she skillfully warded off all suits, whether they were tendered as peace offerings or as passionate proposals (in some cases both happened at once). She had to balance, too, the antipathies between Catholics and Protestants in her realm: as the daughter of Henry VIII she was herself a Protestant and recoiled at the idea of bowing to papal authority, but she also knew from experience that the persecution of Catholics could lead to bloody insurgency. Happily, in the field of music – especially music for Christmas, a treasured tradition for hundreds of years – a truce seemed to hold...
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Parthenia is a dynamic ensemble that explores the extraordinary repertory for viols from Tudor England to the court of Versailles and beyond. Known for a remarkable sense of ensemble, Parthenia is presented in concerts across America, and produces its own lively concert series in New York City, collaborating regularly with the world’s foremost early music specialists. The ensemble has been featured on radio and television and in prestigious festivals and series as wide-ranging as Music Before 1800, Maverick Concerts, Regensburg Tage Alter Musik, Shalin Lui Performing Arts Center, Harriman-Jewell Series, Pierpont Morgan Library, Metropolitan Museum of Art, Yale Center for British Art, Columbia University’s Miller Theatre and the Cathedral of St. John the Divine. Parthenia’s unique variety of performances range from its popular touring program When Music & Sweet Poetry Agree (a celebration of Elizabethan poetry and music with actor Paul Hecht) and the complete viol fantasies of Henry Purcell to the complete instrumental works of Robert Parsons and commissions and premieres of new works by composers such as Phil Kline, Richard Einhorn, Brian Fennelly, Will Ayton, Max Lifchitz, Kristin Norderval, Paul Richards, David Glaser and Frances White. The ensemble was featured in the Philadelphia premiere of the comic opera The Loathly Lady by composer Paul Richards and librettist Wendy Steiner, based on Chaucer’s Wife of Bath’s Tale. Parthenia is in residence at Corpus Christi Church in New York, and is the Beatrice Diener Early Music Ensemble -in-Residence at Stern College for Women of Yeshiva University in New York.
American soprano JULIANNE BAIRD has been hailed a “national artistic treasure” by The New York Times and a “well-nigh peerless performer in the repertory of the baroque.” With more than 125 recordings to her credit on Decca, Deutsche Grammophon, Dorian, Newport Classics and MSR Classics, Julianne is one of the world’s ten most recorded classical artists. She has participated in leading roles in a series of acclaimed recordings of Handel and Gluck operatic premieres. In addition, recent projects include recordings of Handel arias from Alcina and Rinaldo with the Dryden Ensemble and a newly commissioned opera written for her and based on “The Wife of Bath’s Tale” of Chaucer. Internationally respected as a vocalist whose virtuosity is firmly rooted in scholarship, Ms. Baird has authored Introduction to the Art of Singing (Cambridge University Press), now in its third printing and commonly used by singers and professional schools internationally, as well as CD-songbook The Musical World of Benjamin Franklin (The Colonial Institute Press).
WILLIAM BYRD (1543-1623)
Prelude and Voluntary

Remember, O Thou Man

From Virgin’s Womb this Day did Spring

ANTHONY HOLBORNE (c.1550-1602)
As it fell on a Holie Eve
The Cradle
The Night Watch

O magnum mysterium
Vidimus stellam
Puer natus est

ANONYMOUS (c.1600)
Gentil Madonna

ANONYMOUS (c.1600)
Sweet was the Song the Virgin Sung

JOHN BULL (c.1562-1628)
A Gigge: Dr. Bull’s My Selfe

THOMAS MORLEY (1557-1602)
Fantasia La sampogna

Out of the Orient Crystal Skies

ANONYMOUS (c.1600)
Pavan of Albarti
Allemana d’Amor

Fantasy a4

Lully, Lulla

TOBIAS HUME (c.1569-1645)
Harke, Harke
A Mery Conceit: The Queens delight

ANONYMOUS (mid 17th century)
Divisions on Greensleeves

The Old Year Now Away is Fled

MSR Classics
New works for viols, voice and electronics PARTHENIA

Mary Queen of Scots and Her World PARTHENIA

Love Songs in the Age of Ronsard