Fortune My Foe

The York Waits

CD only BEJOCD-48

Popular music from the period of the Gunpowder Plot – a glorious album of instrumental music from the Jacobean period, commemorating the 400th anniversary of the 1605 event.

What the critics have said…
'Excellent CD of "popular music from the period of the Gunpowder Plot" presented in the authentic sound-world of various combinations of Renaissance reeds and strings, cittern, lute, guitar and harp, with occasional massed shawms, sackbuts, bagpipes and percussion. Dance tunes and popular melodies performed with buckets of panache by this celebrated ensemble.'

'A superb compilation. The airs, dances, jigs, ballads and processional pieces match the dynamically different moods of that perplexing era. The playing of the York Waits is of the highest quality. This is an hour of bewitching and informative delight'.
Times Educational Supplement

'Variously serene and rumbustious pieces performed with dazzling skill… the whole is an absolute delight'
The Living Tradition

'Faultlessly played … a beautifully produced CD'
Folk London

'An excellent collection of period dances and tunes. The Waits use a wide variety of instruments, all very skilfully played, which makes for interesting listening on every track… Altogether, a most enjoyable CD.'
Shire Folk

'Only rarely do we find a CD where the sense of excitement comes over with the force of this one's first notes. You can almost feel the vibration of the drumskin.'
Calow Classics

In November, very close to the fifth, I had the pleasure of seeing The York Waits perform from Fortune My Foe, which is a collection of popular music from the time of the Gunpowder Plot. The tunes in the live set are interwoven with story and narrative, making for a dramatic and moving evening's entertainment; on the CD, however, the music by itself is able to tell a good story, bringing us close to events which we are increasingly revisiting and reassessing. Yes, say some, the plotters were terrorists—but wait, say others: at least they were seeking to annihilate their oppressors, not innocent passers-by.
2005 marked the 400th anniversary of the attempt to blow up Parliament, part of an unhappy time of suspicion and repression, culminating not in revolution but capture, torture and death. The music accompanying this is, however, often enchanting, beautiful and life-affirming. The play-list includes pieces that will be familiar to those who follow their traditional tunes right back to the Renaissance, and here they are played, of course, on the traditional instruments of the time. We have stirring tunes for outdoor playing, quieter, more delicate and intimate sounds and some that are plangent and truly haunting in the sense that the melodies really will stay in your head.
There are no less than twenty-six tunes on this excellent CD, including the exquisite Packington's Pound and a reminder of why Greensleves is considered the quintessential English melody. The title track dates from 1589, the version here based on a setting by John Dowland. Sometimes known as 'the hanging tune', its mournfulness would seem appropriate, but then we are reminded that executions were occasions of public entertainment, and the Waits maintain the tradition by finishing the CD with Kemp's Jig.
David Kidman, Stirrings

'How appropriate that the York Waits' latest CD should be linked to the 400th anniversary of the Gunpowder Plot. Not only did Guy Fawkes hail from York, but the beginning of the 17th century provides a rich wealth of music central to any Waits repertoire. Looking down the playlist, many of the pieces will be familiar to all followers of renaissance music, but the settings here, mostly by Tim Bayley, gave me lots of surprises and much pleasure, from the trio of high and low C bagpipes and hurdy-gurdy playing Bartholemew Fair and Half Hannekin, to the 8 foot organ-like sound of the great consort of recorders which give special effect to the Irish Ho-Hoane.

'The disk opens with The Hunt is Up and the rich, traditional sound that the York Waits have become famous for. Using shawms, sackbut, curtal and percussion, with an interlude of bagpipe variations from John Peel, this is the typical "haut" or loud, outdoor sound that would have been used by waits bands as a wake-up call. I especially enjoyed these bagpipe variations. The disk also contains much "still" or quiet, more intimate music, which the York Waits are less well-known for, using instruments such as recorders, flute, violin and lute. To complete the rich variety there is much in between. The setting Packington's Pound gives a wonderful contrast in sound quality between the lute accompanied by violin, followed by the low consort of recorders, giving an organ-like sound.

'For a CD to be worth buying, for me it needs to merit repeated playing. For this, on first hearing there must be at least one track which sticks indelibly in the mind, and this CD has just that: the haunting Scots Tune from the Jane Pickering Lute Book. A mournful, pentatonic melody for lute solo which, when joined by the renaissance flute at the end of the track, is completely sublime in its simplicity, reminiscent of a Chinese folk song. This was quite the opposite to what I expected from the York Waits, but this very simple tune followed me around for days. The set of tunes beginning with the title piece, Fortune my Foe, sometimes known as the "hanging tune", really sums up the dark mood of the treason in the Gunpowder Plot and the subsequent public executions: two menacing laments followed by Millfield, a well known, rumbustuous jig which was often used for contemporary ballads about treasonous acts. Having said this, the dark moments of this music are few. This CD gives us a great variety of instrumental music which is light, great fun and most enjoyable. The wide range of instruments used shows amazing versatility on the part of the players. It is beautifully recorded, excellently performed throughout, and represents great value'.
Charlie Wells, member of the Doncaster Waites,
Waits website

1   The Hunt is Up
2   The Choice/Almain
3   Muy Linda/Widow's Mite
4   Greensleeves
5   Strawberry Leaves
6   Wilson's Wild/ The Light of Love/ Mrs Winter's Jump
7   Packington's Pound
8   My Lady Hunsdon's Puffe
9   Grimstock
10 Belle Qui Tiens Ma Vie
11 A Scots Tune/Draw Neare Me and Love Me
12 Witches Dance
13 Tower Hill
14 Lord Zouche His March
15 The Night Watch
16 Go From My Window
17 The Carman's Whistle/Nobody's Jig
18 Bartholomew Fair/ Half Hannikin
19 Daphne
20 The Woods So Wild/ Pepper is Black/ Sellenger's Round
21 All in a Garden Green
22 Nutmegs and Ginger
23 The Jew's Dance
24 The Irish Ho-hoane
25 Fortune My Foe/ Lord Willoughby's Welcome Home/ Millfield
26 Kemp's Jig

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