Lassus – La terre les eaux




La terre les eaux va beuvant


Orlande de Lassus


Les Meslanges d’Orlande de Lassus, 1576


(text on site here)
(blog entry here)
(listen to the score here)
(recorded extract here – source:  Lassus – French chansons etc, Cantus Cölln)


A typically flamboyant setting from Lassus! There are obvious but well-deployed madrigalian touches – “en haut ou en bas” (‘high or low’) naturally has most voices rising to high then sinking to low points, though some of the lows are extraordinarily low (a low E for the bass); and the reference to tree roots (“racines”) has some of the voices running around ‘underground’ low in their range. But overall the setting uses a remarkably low range of voices: the superius is almost in the alto range, the alto and quinta are virtually tenors, and the tenor a baritone.

I’ve transcribed this from the 1576 edition, though it appeared first in the 1570 edition of the Meslanges. My source was the Gallica copy, with the Quinta (missing in the Gallica copy) coming from the Tours Bibliothèques Virtuelles Humanistes.

You can compare Costeley’s setting in a slightly less flamboyant, and more French, style here. Both composers use imitation (especially at the beginning) but Lassus never lets that become overpowering; nor is he fond of homophonic, French-style, declamation!


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About fattoxxon

Who am I? Lover of all sorts of music - classical, medieval, world (anything from Africa), world-classical (Uzbek & Iraqi magam for instance), and virtually anything that won't be on the music charts... Lover of Ronsard's poetry (obviously) and of sonnets in general. Reader of English, French, Latin & other literature. And who is Fattoxxon? An allusion to an Uzbek singer - pronounce it Patahan, with a very plosive 'P' and a throaty 'h', as in 'khan')

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