The "Capriol Suite" by Peter Warlock is one of four works recommended by Glenis Cole, then music teacher at the Christopher Whitehead Girls School, Worcester in April 1982 for possible use by "The Schwanewede Recorder Consort
" which was then on a 2-week tour in Worcester/Hereford, England. Parts and score were promptly obtained and we started rehearsing even whilst still on tour.
On my return to Germany, I came across a Clas Pehrsson
recording of this famous suite and then for the next 12 months became absolutely obsessed with it. The "Capriol Suite" became the "pièce de résistance" in our repertoire. Our own efforts were polished by generous help from Glenis Cole herself whilst on her own tour in Germany in 1983 and from Heidi Suhrlie of The Vegesack Double Quartet
We spent a very happy 14 days as guest of the Kirklees Local Authority whilst touring West Yorkshire in June 1983 visiting at least eight different schools. We also performed in Huddersfield Town Hall (lunch-time concert), St. Paul's and did a half-an-hour live broadcast on BBC Leeds. Yes, happy days indeed.
One lasting memory, which I will take to the grave and of which my fellow performers will not and never allow me to forget, is that of falling off the podium in St. Paul's on giving the "eins" to start Peter Warlock's Capriol Suite. St. Paul's was practically full and up to that point it had been a splendid concert (it was the final one of the tour) and the atmosphere was electric. My chair was very close to the podium's edge, a fact that I hadn't noticed, and on giving the nod to start, my chair, myself and my recorders all went "arse-over-tip" as we say in Worcester whereby I fell some four feet, legs in the air and vanishing from the audience's view. I was uninjured but intensely and acutely embarrassed and somehow very furious and kept muttering to myself "Why me?", "Why me?". As you can imagine, the audience and my consort erupted into gales of laughter and the magic atmosphere was utterly gone. My group, six young ladies between 12 and 16 and another adult lady, collapsed into helpless giggles which seemed to me to last for an eternity. Eventually we got going again and I was so furious with myself that I think on that evening I played the best Capriol Suite in my life!
The suite comprises six movements: Basse-Danse, Pavane, Tordion, Bransles, Pieds-en-l'air and Mattachins. These are based on old French dances from Thoinot Arbeaus's "Orchésographie (1588) (Capriol is an imaginary character in the book).
I love the way the music gets wilder and weirder from piece to piece. The second voice is quite demanding (treble/sopranino) whilst the fifth voice (tenor) can be dispensed with without too much loss. I have often heard the original string version of this work but for my taste, I much prefer Stanley Taylor's arrangement for recorder sextet.