Sweelinck – Pourquoy tournez vous




Pourquoy tournez vouz voz yeux


Jan Pieterszoon Sweelinck (1562-1621)


Chansons a cinc parties de M. Jean Pierre Svvelingh, 1594


(text on Lieder.net site here)
(blog entry here)
(listen to the score here)
(recording here – source: Sweelinck, The Secular Vocal Works, Gesualdo Consort Amsterdao)


Time for a new composer and a new source. Sweelinck is someone we tend to think of as ‘early Baroque’, mainly because of his forward-looking organ works. It’s odd to see him in company with people who are clearly NOT baroque – yet that is the reality of Sweelinck. As is the fact that his keyboard music is a small (and in some ways unrepresentative) fraction of his total output, in a recent ‘complete’ edition around 7CDs compared with around 17CDs of vocal music (two-thirds of it psalm settings).

The vocal music is much ‘closer’ to its pre-baroque contemporaries, as the settings of Ronsard show. Even so, the vocal settings show forward-looking ideas: in this one, for instance, the voices enter one by one over a remarkably long span of time, rather than (e.g.) in pairs or sequentially but much closer together; and the quinta and bassus effectively act together as the ‘bass line’, a fine and sonorous support for the 3 lines above which, in turn, already show something of the ‘melody plus accompaniment’ style developing into the baroque.

As the title page shows, though Sweelinck wrote in the French style (among others) to gain sales in the French market, his contemporaries (even those in Franco-Flemish Anvers = Antwerp in the Low Countries, had some problems with his name!

Svve(image from Gallica)










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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