Monthly Archives: September 2015

de Monte – Que me servent

Standard

 

Title

Que me servent mes vers et les sons de ma lyre

Composer

Philippe de Monte (1521-1603)

Source

Le Rossignol Musical … , Phalèse 1597

(text not yet on Lieder.net site)
(blog entry here)
(listen to the score here)
(recording here: source, Philippus de Monte – Motets, madrigals & chansons, Ensemble Orlando Fribourg)

 

Here’s an interesting setting by de Monte: effectively, moving quickly towards the baroque future with a melody, a bass, and three middle parts providing harmonic support. Well, it’s written as polyphony, but the vocal ranges are effectively 1 lady, 3 tenors & a bass even if they are still labelled ‘contra’, ‘tenor’ and ‘quinta’.The recording brings this out more obviously still by opening with the top (melody) line alone.

Once again de Monte begins with a solo soprano line, but (after a brief homophonic opening) the lower voices function either chordally in twos and threes, or as overlapping lines, rather than in French-style homophony. It’s an attractive and pensive setting.

This too originally appeared in de Monte’s own book of Ronsard settings in 1575, where it was placed first – its unusual features making it indeed a gripping opening to the set.

 

Mon_QMS_0001
Mon_QMS_0002
Mon_QMS_0003
Mon_QMS_0004
Mon_QMS_0005
Mon_QMS_0006
Mon_QMS_0007
Mon_QMS_0008

 

 

de Monte – Bon jour mon coeur

Standard

 

Title

Bon jour mon coeur, bon jour ma douce vie

Composer

Philippe de Monte (1521-1603)

Source

Le Rossignol Musical … , Phalèse 1597
(text on Lieder.net site here)
(blog entry here)
(listen to the score here)
(recording here: source, Philippus de Monte – Motets, madrigals & chansons, Ensemble Orlando Fribourg)

 

A new composer, and this time a Flemish one well-known for his polyphony in the Italian/Flemish style rather than for chansons in the French style. But of course like Lassus and others he wrote in many styles. This is an interesting setting, since it consciously adopts the French style in the homophony of the opening, though the solo soprano contrasting with the rest of the group is rather a ‘modern’ & non-French touch. The section in triple time which follows allows de Monte to show off (still homophonically) a variety of different groupings within his choir; and then he allows himself to indulge in something more like his usual dense polyphony, before showing his versatility by setting the second verse in a nicely varied repeat of the first – similar but rarely quite the same for any length of time. It’s also quite an intriguing setting, in that it sounds rather like one of those ‘epigrammatic’ settings which set perhaps half a sonnet, yet in fact sets the whole 18 line chanson.

The 1597 Rossignol musical is a late source, but the setting originally appeared in de Monte’s own book of Ronsard settings in 1575.

The recording is an attractive one from a Swiss choir I’ve not come across before, though they have been around for some 20 years!

 

Mon_BJMC_0001
Mon_BJMC_0002
Mon_BJMC_0003
Mon_BJMC_0004
Mon_BJMC_0005
Mon_BJMC_0006
Mon_BJMC_0007
 

 

 

Amours 1.208

Standard
L’or crespelu que d’autant plus j’honore,
Que mes douleurs s’augmentent de son beau,
Laschant un jour le noud de son bandeau,
S’esparpilloit sur le sein que j’adore.
 
Mon cueur helas ! qu’en vain je r’appelle ore,
Vola dedans ainsi au’un jeune oiseau,
Qui s’en-volant dedans un arbrisseau,
De branche en branche à son plaisir s’essore.
 
Lors que dix doigts dix rameaux yvoirins
En ramassant de ce beau chef les brins,
Prindrent mon cueur en leurs rets qui m’affolle :
 
Je le vy bien, mais je ne peus crier,
Tant un effroy ma langue vint lier,
Glaçant d’un coup mon cueur et ma parolle.
 
 
 
 
                                                                            The curling gold, which I honour more and more
                                                                            As my sadness is increased by its beauty,
                                                                            Escaping one day the knot of its scarf
                                                                            Scattered over the breast which I adore.
 
                                                                            Oh, my heart! In vain I tried to recall it,
                                                                            As it flew among it just like a little bird
                                                                            Which flutters inside a bush
                                                                            Winging from branch to branch at its pleasure.
 
                                                                            Then ten fingers, ten ivory boughs,
                                                                            Gathering up the strands from her fair head
                                                                            Seized my heart in their maddening net:
 
                                                                            I saw it clearly but could not cry out
                                                                            Such fear bound my tongue
                                                                            Freezing at one blow my heart and my speech.
 
 
 
 
The image of the net, and the escaping heart caught in it, is neatly done: pulling us further and further into a metaphor as we go. Easy to imagine golden hair acting as a net, but the leap from there to catching an escaping heart in it moves us beyond the visual allusion disconcertingly. I enjoy how Ronsard throws us slightly off balance by extending the metaphor in this way.
 
The second half of the poem is virtually written anew, though still within the same metaphor he’d employed in the first version (below):
 
 
L’or crespelu que d’autant plus j’honore,
Que mes douleurs s’augmentent de son beau,
Laschant un jour le noud de son bandeau,
S’esparpilloit sur le sein que j’adore.
 
Mon cœur, helas ! qu’en vain je r’appelle ore,
Vola dedans ainsi au’un jeune oiseau,
Qui s’en-feuillant dedans un arbrisseau,
De branche en branche à son plaisir s’essore.
 
Lorsque voici dix beaux doigts yvoirins
Qui, ramassant ses blonds filets orins,
Pris en leurs rets esclave le lièrent.
 
J’eusse crié, mais la peur que j’avois
Gela mes sens, mes poumons et ma voix ;
Et cependant le cœur ils me pillèrent.
 
 
 
                                                                            The curling gold,which I honour more and more

                                                                            As my sadness is increased by its beauty

                                                                            Escaping one day the knot of its scarf

                                                                            Scattered over the breast which I adore.
 
                                                                            Oh, my heart! In vain I tried to recall it,
                                                                            As it flew among it just like a little bird
                                                                            Which enwraps itself in leaves inside a bush
                                                                            Winging from branch to branch at its pleasure.
 
                                                                            Then, look, ten fair ivory fingers
                                                                            Gathering up the golden blond strands
                                                                            Bound it in their nets, a captive slave.
 
                                                                            I would have cried out, but the fear I had
                                                                            Froze my senses, my lungs and my voice ;
                                                                            And yet they stole my heart from me.
 
 
Note however the change in line 7: “S’en feuillant” is a marvellous Ronsardian coinage – ‘enwrapping in leaves’ – which he replaces with the more mundane “S’en volant” in old age only because he has by then rejected such showy enthusiasms of his youth. 
 
This is one of Ronsard’s translations from the Italian: as Muret says in his edition, “the fiction of this sonnet is taken from Bembo’s sonnet … “. Yet, to be truthful, Ronsard does much more than take ‘the fiction’ (the imagery) of this sonnet from Bembo, it is in fact a genuine translation, very closely following the original – and yet at the same time very much a poem by Ronsard. This is the true art of translation – and it is a job for true poets.
 
(If I, once again, emphasise that my only aim in providing an English version of Ronsard is to make his meaning accessible, losing much of the poetry and feel of the original, I’d also like to point out that here Ronsard’s close translation of Bembo also results in a different ‘feel’.  The new poem is a French poem, not a translation of an Italian one:  the two have a different feel, because of the different languages and different objectives of the writers. Bembo’s is a little stiff, almost ‘mannerist’ rather than ‘humanist’ in its careful use of poetical topoi and the way it seems to encourage the reader to stand back and admire the workmanship. Ronsard does this too at one level, but his great achievement is to write poetry that operates within such closely-defined images and forms, yet is at the same time more immediate and engaging and ‘real’.)
 
 
Bembo – ‘Rime’ 9
 
Di que’ bei crin, che tanto più sempre amo,
Quanto maggior mio mal nasce da loro,
Sciolto era il nodo, che del bel tesoro
M’asconde quel, ch’io più di mirar bramo ;
 
E ‘l cor, che ‘ndarno or, lasso, a me richiamo,
Volò subitamente in quel dolce oro,
E fe’ come augellin tra verde alloro,
Ch’a suo diletto va di ramo in ramo.
 
Quando ecco due man belle oltre misura,
Raccogliendo le treccie al collo sparse,
Strinservi dentro lui, che v’era involto.
 
Gridai ben io, ma le voci fe’ scarse
Il sangue, che gelò per la paura :
Intanto il cor mi fu legato e tolto.
 
 
 
                                                                            Of those fair tresses that ever I love more and more,
                                                                            (How much greater from them grows my pain!)
                                                                            The knot was loosed, which hid from me the part
                                                                            Of that fair treasure, which I desire more than sight;
 
                                                                            And my heart, which indeed in vain – alas – I recall
                                                                            Flew suddenly into that sweet gold
                                                                            And behaved like a little bird in a green bay-tree
                                                                            Which hops at its pleasure from branch to branch.
 
                                                                            Then, behold! Two hands, fair beyond measure,
                                                                            Gathering the braids scattered on her neck
                                                                            Bundled it up what was mine within them.
 
                                                                            I groaned indeed, but my voice was feeble –
                                                                            My blood, which froze in fear, made it so.
                                                                            Meanwhile, my heart was tied up and taken.
 
 
 
 
 
 

Amours 1.207

Standard
Sœur de Pâris, la fille au Roy d’Asie,
A qui Phebus en doute fit avoir
Peu cautement l’aiguillon du sçavoir,
Dont sans profit ton ame fut saisie :
 
Tu variras vers moy de fantaisie,
Puis qu’il te plaist (bien que tard) de vouloir
Changer ton Loire au sejour de mon Loir,
Pour y fonder ta demeure choisie.
 
En ma faveur le Ciel te guide ici,
Pour te monstrer de plus pres le souci
Qui peint au vif de ses couleurs ma face.
 
Vien Nymphe vien, les rochers et les bois,
Qui de pitié s’enflamment sous ma voix,
Pleurant ma peine, eschaufferont ta glace.  
 
 
 
                                                                            Sister of Paris, daughter to the King of Asia,
                                                                            To whom Phoebus, doubting, gave
                                                                            Incautiously the goad of knowledge,
                                                                            By which your soul was without profit seized ;
 
                                                                            You will change your ideas towards me
                                                                            Since you choose (though late) to consider
                                                                            Exchanging your Loire to stay on my Loir
                                                                            And to found there your chosen home.
 
                                                                            For my benefit is Heaven guiding you here
                                                                            To show you more closely the pain
                                                                            Which paints my face so vividly with its colours.
 
                                                                            Come, Nymph, come : the rocks and woods
                                                                            Which blaze up in pity at my voice,
                                                                            Weeping for my pain, will warm up your ice.
 
 
 
 
Classical allusiion to the fore again, though here Ronsard’s use of a roundabout way to identify Cassandre is fairly obvious – he rapidly gives us as much information as possible (sister of Paris, daughter of Priam, prophetic mouthpiece of Apollo … ah yes, that would be Cassandra!) In line 3 the “aiguillon” (goad, or prick, or sting, or really anything sharp and painful) perhaps calls to mind a more Christian image, that of St Paul “kicking against the pricks” as the King James version so wonderfully puts it. (Have you ever noticed how many of Jesus’s turns of phrase and stories are the language of a farmer in the fields, not that of a carpenter? If he did follow his father’s trade, he can only have done so part-time!)  Whether an intended reference or not, it is clearly the same metaphor: just as cattle were goaded with sharp sticks to keep them from wandering in the wrong direction, so here prophetic knowledge is both painful and also leaves no choice – Cassandra must prophesy, no matter that it hurts.
 
But then, in the rest of the poem, we abandon that image and the pains (or otherwise) of knowledge – because it becomes clear that was all just an elaborate way to say “Cassandre”. There is no real suggestion in the first tercet that Heaven’s guiding is in any way painful to Cassandre, as it was to her Trojan namesake; nor that the need to understand lies behind any decision to move closer to his home. And that is probably why I find this sonnet a bit irritating. There are thematic links between the opening and the rest, but those links seem accidental and un-purposed, which is un-satisfactory in a poet of Ronsard’s quality.
 
The earlier version printed by Blanchemain does not offer any substantive changes. In lines 7-8 he becomes slightly less certain of her intentions:
 
Changer ton Loire au rives de mon Loir,
Voire y fonder ta demeure choisie.
 
                                                                            Exchanging your Loire for the banks of my Loir,
                                                                            Maybe even founding there your chosen home. 
 
and in the final line becomes “De leurs soupirs eschauferont ta glace” (‘the rocks and woods … With their sighs will warm up your ice’)
 
 
 
 

Certon – Je suis un demi-dieu

Standard

 

Title

Je suis un demi dieu

Composer

Pierre Certon

Source

Huitiesme Livre de Chansons, published by Le Roy & Ballard, 1557

 

(text on Lieder.net site here)
(blog entry not yet available)
(listen to the score here)
(recording here – source: Mary’s Music: Songs & Dances from the time of Mary Queen of Scots, Scottish Early Music Consort)

 

It’s a bit of a shock moving back from Lassus to the very French style of Pierre Certon. It seems hardly possible that there are only 14 years, and a stylistic (French-Italian) boundary between them. Indeed, the middle section of this setting sounds like a (not very good) psalm setting suitable for church use, in completely homophonic style with each line moving inevitably to an ‘open’ cadence at its halfway point, then back to a ‘closed’ one. It doesn’t help that this section, with the succeeding more freely composed and attractive conclusion, is then repeated with some minor variations!

But that would be to ignore the attractively polyphonic opening, and the sections which succeed those very dully-homophonic ones, which make a much better impression. The recording (dating from the mid-80s) succeeds in making the music live and breathe appealingly, showing it very definitely in the best possible light!

 

Cer_JSU_0001
Cer_JSU_0002
Cer_JSU_0003
Cer_JSU_0004
Cer_JSU_0005
Cer_JSU_0006
Cer_JSU_0007
 

Lassus – Amour Amour

Standard

 

Title

Amour Amour donne moy paix ou treve

Composer

Roland de Lassus

Source

Livre de chansons nouvelles … , 1571

 

(text on Lieder.net site here)
(blog entry here)
(listen to the score here)
(recorded extract here – source: Lassus – Sibylline prophecies, chansons etc, Cantus Cölln)

 

There are moments in this setting which are achingly beautiful – the soprano line at “trouver ma delivrance” (in part 2) for instance – that this at times almost begins to sound like the melody-led songs of another century. But it is still firmly polyphonic, and much more so than the settings of his French contemporaries. It’s rather a jolly setting, very rhythmic though with plenty of variation in the tempo, and lots of melodic fragments being passed from voice to voice or overlapping in a riotous blend.

This is the last remaining Ronsard setting by Lassus to be added to the blog. We’ve also had Bertrand’s setting of this poem, though I’ve had to remove that until I can get a copyright-free version; and there are several more versions to come as this was one of the most frequently set Ronsard texts.

The recording by Cantus Cölln unfortunately doesn’t make as much as I’d like of the end of part 2, so I’ve selected the end of part 1 instead!

 

Las_AADM_0001
Las_AADM_0002
Las_AADM_0003
Las_AADM_0004
Las_AADM_0005
Las_AADM_0006
Las_AADM_0007seconde partie
Las_AADM_0008
Las_AADM_0009
Las_AADM_0010
Las_AADM_0011
Las_AADM_0012
Las_AADM_0013

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lassus – Ores que je suis

Standard

 

Title

Ores que je suis dispos

Composer

Roland de Lassus

Source

Livre de chansons nouvelles … , 1571

 

(text on Lieder.net site here)
(blog entry not yet available)
(listen to the score here)
(recorded extract here)

 

A lovely 5-part drinking song from Lassus. Lots of lively and bibulous repetition, overlapping voices, little melodic fragments jumping from voice to voice… All very nicely done.

The only recording I can find is rather an old one, but I’ve selected one of the livelier parts – approximately pages 3-4 of the score here.

 

Las_OQJS_0001
Las_OQJS_0002
Las_OQJS_0003
Las_OQJS_0004
Las_OQJS_0005
Las_OQJS_0006
Seconde partie
Las_OQJS_0007
Las_OQJS_0008
Las_OQJS_0009
Las_OQJS_0010
Las_OQJS_0011