Las, je me plain de mille et mille et mille
Marc Antoine Muret (1526-85)
Supplement musical to the 1552 edition of Les amours de P de Ronsard Vandomoys, ensemble le cinquiesme de ses Odes, 1552
The second of only two settings we have by Ronsard’s friend, fellow-poet, editor and humanist Muret. Muret was a gentleman-composer rather than a professional: some of his lines look (to my ignorant eyes) relatively hard to sing as they do not follow the usual stepwise progress with occasional leaps, but leap more often than not! More tellingly, I suspect also he breaks some of the ‘rules’ of polyphonic composition: there are several places where he moves to a new syllable immediately after a melisma, rather than closing the melisma on a longer note first – which is at least uncommon elsewhere in the settings we’re looking at here, and in (most?) sixteenth-century polyphony. (It is at least possible that this is in Tiersot’s transcription rather than Muret’s composition.)
Nevertheless it is an accomplished piece. I particularly like the way it sways between 2-time and 3-time – the barring adopted by Tiersot suggests a far greater regularity than there is . Just consider the number of times all parts together are singing in semibreves which have to break over the barline (e.g around bar 50); this isn’t everyone singing ‘off the beat’, it’s a place where there ought to have been more rapid alternation between the time signatures – something accomplished far more easily in the un-barred original than in modern transcriptions, which would just look very fussy switching back and forth every other bar…
The recorded extract is from a 1980s disc: this segment is the beginning of the sestet just after the repeat of the quatrain finishes, where Muret breaks into running melismas overlapping in several voices.