I’ve been reading a lot about Shakespeare recently and somewhere in that reading I ran across a mention of Orlando Gibbons, the other great English composer of the Tudor era (besides William Byrd.) I decided to check him out, particularly after leaning that he was Glenn Gould’s favorite composer.
Gibbons can be appreciated as a sort of alternative to Bach, with the same logical clarity but more theatricality, whimsy and lyricism. You can hear the cultural giddiness of Elizabethan England in Gibbons’s work, as you can in Shakespeare’s poetry.
Gould only recorded a few pieces by Gibbons but they’re fascinating performances. Highly expressive, Romantic even, they violate historical style but somehow evoke the essence of the music, in ways stricter interpretations, on more appropriate instruments, sometimes
fail to do.
There are worse ways to spend an evening than listening to the music of Orlando Gibbons. If you have a fire and a glass of good red wine and some strong English cheese — an old cheddar or Stilton would do perfectly — so much the better.