A pioneering recording offers a fascinating window into the musical world of Henry VIII’s controversial second wife.


Anne Boleyn’s Songbook
Music and Passions of a Tudor Queen
Alamire/David Skinner
Obsidian Records CD715 (2CD)


As a maid of honour to Margaret of Austria, the young Anne Boleyn would have been exposed to a wide variety of musical styles, as well as being given ample opportunity to develop her own musical talents. All the more intriguing then, is a rare music book kept in London’s Royal College of Music that bears her name. It contains a remarkable 42 works by a variety of composers popular at the time. Some were clearly destined for domestic or devotional settings, while others are grander, liturgical works.

David Skinner and his splendid vocal consort, Alamire, offer a generous sampling of the book’s diverse contents. What is immediately noticeable is the group’s sonorous, rich, even tone which is used to great effect in Josquin’s masterpieces, Praeter Rerum Seriem and Stabat Mater. Mouton’s Tota Pulchra Es also impresses for the same reason. Other composers represented include Loyset Compère, Antoine Brumel and Antoine de Févin.

Amongst the secular pieces, two have particular connections with Anne Boleyn. The future queen could well have sung Claudin de Sermisy’s chanson, Jouyssance Vous Donneray to her royal suitor at some stage during their protracted courtship: the final line being “everything will be good for those who wait”.

Sympathetically and appropriately recorded in Arundel Castle’s Fitzalan Chapel, these performances are another contribution to our understanding of music in the Tudor period. Tony Way


“It’s incredible that such an important source of early 16th-century French music ended up in a collection owned by Anne Boleyn. It gives us real insight into her rich cultural interests. Her life before the tyrant!”
– David Skinner

The Runners-Up

Beethoven • Haydn
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The Sixteen/Harry Christophers
Coro COR16121 (3CD)

Songs Volume 3
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Hyperion CDA67956

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Hyperion CDA68081/2 (2CD)