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ClassicsOnline Home » JENKINS: All in a Garden Green
"And at the price it's one of the spiritual bargains of the year. Go for it"
John Jenking (1592 - 1678)
All in a Garden Green
from which we deduce that he was born in 1592. He was almost certainly the
son of Henry Jenkins, a Maidstone carpenter who perhaps made instruments, for
the inventory taken after Henry's death in 1617 records 'Seven Vialls and
Violyns, one Bandora and a Cylherne'. But of Jenkins' early life and career
nothing is known for certain. He may have been the 'Jack Jenkins' in the
household of Anne, Countess of Warwick, in 1603; the first positive sighting of
him is among the musicians performing in the extravagant masque The Triumph of
Peace in 1634. The advent of civil strife forced him, like others of his kind,
into the country. In the 1640s he was particularly associated with two Royalist
Norfolk families: the Derhams at West Derham and the L'Estranges at Hunstanton.
During the 1650s, Jenkins visited Lord Dudley North's home at Kirtling,
Cambridgeshire, becoming resident there during the 1660s. With the restoration
of Charles II he was given a place as a theorbo-player at Court, but he was too
old to give more than token service. However, Roger North records that
tho' he for many years was uncapable to attend, the court musicians had so
much value for him, that advantage was not taken, but he received his salary as
they were pay'd.
His last years were spent in honourable semi-retirement at the home of Sir
Philip Wodehouse at Kimberley, Norfolk, where he died on 27 October 1678.
Jenkins' life was a long one, witnessing many musical changes from the era of
Byrd to that of Purcell. This recording reflects something of the diversity of
the composer's output within his preferred medium of consort music. He came to
maturity as a composer in the 1620s, following in the footsteps of the
generation who had developed the consort fantasia for viols, in particular
Alfonso Ferrabosco the younger, Thomas Lupo, John Coprario and Orlando Gibbons.
Exceptional lyrical gifts allied to a capacity for large-scale planning, and a
special and remarkably mature handling of key and key-relationships, place
Jenkins' fantasias and pavans for viols among the very best of their kind.
The recording opens and closes with six-part consorts. The Pavan in F is
among Jenkins' loveliest works. The secret of its beauty derives especially from
a tonal plan which explores warmer and darker keys rather than brighter regions.
A six-part medium was the richest available to composers of viol consorts and
Jenkins seizes the opportunity here to vary instrumental textures with trios and
an unusual repeated-note figure in the second strain. The lengthy third strain
reminds us that the pavan was regarded differently from the other dances:
longer, more dignified and equally capable with the fantasia of embracing those
'sublime discourses' which are the peculiar glory of consort music.
The fantasia, as Thomas Morley rightly says, was 'the most principal and
chiefest kind of musicke which is made without a dittie' and, he continues, 'in
this may more art be showne than in any other musicke, because the composer is
tide to nothing but that he may adde, deminish and alter at his pleasure...'
Jenkins' five-part Fantasia in C minor  shows something of this variety,
while the Fantasia in D major is a work of unbridled gaiety and sparkle,
revelling in intricate and highly-involved counterpoint. For sheer rapt beauty,
on the other hand, it would be hard to find the equal of the Fantasia in C
Nowhere is Jenkins' handling of modulation more impressive than in his
four-part Fantasia . Here, two outer sections of stable tonality are
separated by a central area in which the music modulates completely round the
key-circle. Such experiments were rare, yet so smooth is the counterpoint that
one scarcely notices how eventful is this pioneering journey. The Fantasia in F
major gives the title to this recording, for the main theme matches the
folk-song All in a Garden Green. Jenkins was particularly attracted to building
complete pieces From a single idea; this is a fine example, in which subtle
modifications to the 'folk' theme are combined with varied subsidiary motifs.
Prolific though he was, Jenkins' craftsmanship is always evident even in his
lighter works. His was the first generation to compose 'horseloads' of dances
and his attractive series of more than fifty airs in four parts was apparently
completed before the Commonwealth. About half of them feature two tenors rather
than two treble viols, including the four here, and are likely to be among the
earlier works of their kind. Another set of 'Ayres' for two trebles and two
basses, was written in the dark years of the 1640s when Jenkins' patrons were
subjected to 'unjust and tyrannical oppression' following their abortive attempt
to hold Lynn for the King. However, they must have been cheered by the news that
Prince Rupert had relieved the besieged town of Newark after a battle on 21
March 1644 and Jenkins celebrated the event in a programmatic pavan and galliard
featuring the clash of opposing forces, lamentation for the dead and wounded,
and general rejoicing at the victory.
The composer's fantasias for treble, two basses and organ probably date from
around the 1630s, since they introduce a number of progressive features - organ
interludes, triple-time passages, and lively string patterns - alongside more
traditional writing. The Fantasia in E minor is a beautiful work,
incorporating a characteristic modulation to the tonic major and a repeated-note
figure near the close which is something of a fingerprint in the series as a
English consort music underwent a sea-change with the emergence of the
fantasia-suite at the English Court. Early examples by Coprario (d.1626) and his
pupil William Lawes (d.1645) use violins in treble parts and are full of
innovative melodic and harmonic writing. To begin with Jenkins' style is more
circumspect than theirs, perhaps because he worked outside Court circles.
However, he soon seems to have decided to incorporate elaborate 'divisions' to
introduce an exciting display element into the music, contrasting vividly with
lively dance-like sections and the more traditional polyphonic passages. The
suite in A minor for treble, bass and organ is a fine example of this type of
The fantasia opens in typical fugal style (note that the organ is treated
throughout as an obbligato instrument) before winding up to elaborate imitative
string divisions. These give way to a brief triple-time interlude and a lovely
passage in the major before the minor-key close. A common-time air and
triple-time corant make up the other two movements, both of which employ further
florid divisions for the repeats. The set of divisions for two basses is a
notated example of the type of piece English violists (including Jenkins) might
have extemporized over a ground: the repeated harmonic pattern is broken or
'divided' into brilliant passage-work.
To conclude we return to the six-part medium. By Jenkins' time the In Nomine-built
around a plainsong cantus firmmus originally derived from Taverner's Mass
Gloria Tibi Trinitas - had all but run its course. Jenkins' example is, as
North says, 'most elaborate', formed from two contrasted sections. After a
broadly - spaced fugal exposition, like a fantasia, the parts turn to lively and
intricate figures, developing a volatile backcloth to the chant and to the slow
harmonic changes. The second section, by contrast, insistently harps on
imitations of a single figure.
Rose Consort of Viols
The members are: John Bryan, Mark Caudle, Alison Crum, Elizabeth Liddle, Roy
Marks, Susanna Pell - Viols
Timothy Roberts - Organ
The Rose Consort of Viols takes its name from the celebrated family of viol
makers, whose work spanned the growth and flowering of the English consort
repertoire. With its unique blend of intimacy, intricacy, passion and
flamboyance, this repertoire forms the basis of the Rose Consort's programmes
ranging from Taverner and Byrd, to Lawes, Locke and Purcell, and expanding where
necessary to include singers, lutes and keyboard instruments.
The Consort performs extensively throughout Britain and the continent of
Europe, appears regularly on the BBC and in the major London concert halls, and
has made a number of highly acclaimed recordings. It has received awards for its
research and performance of newly devised programmes, some of which have been
toured on the Early Music Network, or performed at leading festivals such as
York, Utrecht and Bruges.
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JENKINS: All in a Garden Green