Castro – Que dois-je faire?




Que dois-je faire? amour me fait errer


Jean de Castro


Livre de Chansons à 5 parties … , Phalèse 1586

(text not yet on site)
(blog entry here)
(listen to the score here)
(recorded extract unavailable)


I’d meant this next post to be a poem; but instead a minor coup. This song by Castro has not generally been recognised as a Ronsard setting – though Jeanice Brooks spotted it in her edition of Castro, it was missed by Thibaut and by the Ricercar online “Catalogue de la chanson de la Renaissance 1480-1600“. As you can see from the link to the blog post above, it is indeed the closing sestet of one of the earlier (and more famous) sonnets.

Castro is also a new composer to this blog, so a few words are in order. I consider Castro to be one of the most unjustly-neglected composers of his generation: though not as versatile or as great as Lassus, he is equal or better than far more well-known composers like de Monte, Giaches de Wert or Arcadelt, and stands head-and-shoulders above most of his contemporaries, like Goudimel, Costeley or Certon. 400+ of his compositions survive in a wide range of genres and for from 2 to 8 voices; and in his lifetime was considered (at least in Antwerp, where he worked!) second only to Lassus. This is from one of his many ‘solo’ publications:

castro 5vv cvr

Castro has been better-served by the recording industry than some of his contemporaries, but there is still far too little of his music available. Perhaps because unrecognised as a Ronsard setting, this song has not been recorded yet.

Yet this setting is typically excellent. There is a marvellous contrasting section in bars 40ff, where the three middle voices chatter along while the top voice holds long notes; there is a marvellous variety of movement throughout, and the only weak point (if it is one) I can suggest is the way the bassus simply outlines D and A for much of the time.

I don’t think we’ve had a song from the press of Pierre Phalèse in Antwerp (Anvers) yet, so here is a picture (from the Contra partbook) to show the founts he used in printing his music:

castro contra

Thanks to the Bavarian State Library for its excellent digital selection, from which I ‘borrowed’ the picture above & which I used to transcribe the song.












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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