Mais dequoy sert le desirer
Jacques Arcadelt (c.1507-1568)
Neufiesme Livre de Chansons, Le Roy & Ballard 1559/1569
Arcadelt was the younger contemporary of Janequin, and probably the most significant composer in France (after Janequin) of the first half of the sixteenth century. In fact, if you’d asked his contemporaries, they’d probably have put him at the top of the list: he was an ‘insider’ who got the top jobs, while Janequin was an ‘outsider’ who always seemed to miss out.
This is his only Ronsard song. Like Janequin, Arcadelt was from the generation that in general set poets like Marot, not newfangled classicists like Ronsard. It is no surprise, then, that this setting reflects all the virtues of the French style of the earlier sixteenth century: clarity of word-setting, through a largely homophonic style, and little word-painting or chromaticism. That said, it is a lovely example of its type and far better than the often rather heavy settings in a similar vein by Certon.