Category Archives: musical setting

Castro – Que dois-je faire?

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Title

Que dois-je faire? amour me fait errer

Composer

Jean de Castro

Source

Livre de Chansons à 5 parties … , Phalèse 1586

(text not yet on Lieder.net 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:

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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:

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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.

 

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Roussel – Je ne veux plus

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Title

Je ne veux plus que chanter

Composer

François Roussel  (c1525-c1580)

Source

Treziesme Livre de Chansons … , Le Roy & Ballard 1559

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

 

One of the earlier prints to include a Ronsard text, Le Roy & Ballard’s 13th book features one by Roussel. We shall meet Roussel again a couple of decades later when another of his songs is collected in a late edition of their 9th book; and with 2 songs from a book dedicated to his works, the “Chansons nouvelles …” of 1577, of which the full set of partbooks have come to light both in Madrid and Moscow. Roussel was in fact very prolific and dozens of songs, motets and masses by him exist. But he worked mainly in Rome (as Francesco Rosselli), apparently being taken there by Arcadelt as a boy soprano, so much of his work is in Italian forms such as the madrigal.

Having said that, this early work is hardly promising. It is chordal throughout, there is little variety in the voices, and I particularly dislike the way he sets “autrement” – it’s almost as if he’d counted two syllables, realised too late that he needed three, and simply split one of the notes. This gives him a dotted rhythm but exactly the same chord repeated in all voices: hardly an imaginative gesture.  On the positive side, he maintains the triple rhythm but adjusts the speed of the piece in the second half by writing in shorter note-values, which works well.

He sets 4 lines of verse. Ronsard’s ode consists of 21 4-line stanzas. It’s hard to imagine singers maintaining their interest through 21 repetitions of this!

Others perhaps may feel differently. Apparently this was one of only 4 sixteenth-century songs chosen for performance at a ‘Ronsard concert’ in 1958 at the Maison Française in New York! (The others were Goudimel’s “Errant par les champs“, Costeley’s “Las, je n’eusse jamais“, and (perhaps inevitably) “Bonjour mon coeur” in the setting by Lassus.)

The versions by Clereau and Lassus are available for comparison.

No commercial recording exists of the piece, though I believe the Flemish ensemble Zefiro Torna included it in some programmes and their performance may have been broadcast.

 

 

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Maletty – the (in)complete Ronsard settings

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Title

Les Amours de P de Ronsard  (2 vols)

Composer

Jehan de Maletty

Source

Les Amours de P de Ronsard, mises en musique par Iehan de Maletty …, Le Roy & Ballard 1578/80

 

(listen to the scores here and here)

 

By no means all the Ronsard settings by his contemporaries have survived. Many incomplete settings have yet to make their way onto this blog, and there are many other settings known only by title, or altogether lost. One composer whose song-settings have been unlucky in the survival stakes in Jehan de Maletty. A native of Provence, he can be associated with other gentleman-composers around Lyon, like Anthoine de Bertrand and Guillaume Boni. And like them, he composed sets of Amours based on Ronsard. Unlike them (his collections came a year or two later) he broadens his scope to include poems by the new star Philippe Desportes; and unlike them his sets of songs survive only very incompletely.

I have collected together everything that survives in one substantial edition of his (in)complete works, available here. As far as I know, this is the only edition of Maletty’s work ever – after all, so little of it survives in a performable shape. There are a total of 25 Ronsard settings, listed on the sources page of this blog (here) as well as in the edition; all are incomplete, only 1 or 2 of the 4 voices surviving. This is, therefore, offered as part of my proposal of publishing every surviving Ronsard setting – even those which are not performable as they stand. Maybe someone will be inspired to add in some missing lines and bring them back to life!

 

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Regnard – Je semble au mort

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The last of Regnard’s settings from the 1579 volume:

 

Title

Je semble au mort qu’on dévale en la fosse

Composer

François Regnard

Source

Poésies de P. de Ronsard … , Le Roy & Ballard 1579

(text on Lieder.net site here)
(blog entry here)
(listen to the score here)
(recorded extract unavailable)

 

As often, Regnard sets only the final sestet of Ronsard’s poem. It’s interesting to compare the approach Ronsard ‘sponsored’ in the musical supplement to his first collected set of sonnets – i.e. settings of the whole poem – with the approach taken by his composers. Those who are amateurs and littérateurs like Bertrand and Boni usually follows Ronsard’s preference and set the complete sonnet; those who are primarily musicians like Lassus or Regnard usually set only part of a poem… Whether that tells us anything about popular taste vs literary taste, poets vs musicians, etc I do not profess to know!! 🙂

Sadly, once again, no recording has been made of this setting…

 

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Regnard – D’un joyeux dueil

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Title

D’un joyeux dueil sans fin je me repais

Composer

François Regnard

Source

Poésies de P. de Ronsard … , Le Roy & Ballard 1579

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

 

As we move towards the end of his book, Regnard continues to ring the changes: he writes here in a very fluent imitative style, constantly shifting the number and disposition of voices, to create a piece which sounds delightful throughout, shifting seamlessly from the long notes of ‘grief’ at the beginning to a happier-sounding second half. Typically, Regnard sets only part of Ronsard’s poem, cho0osing the section with the maximum short-range contrast of emotion.

Sadly, this is one of those pieces not yet recorded by anyone.

 

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Regnard – Las, toy qui es

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Title

Las, toy qui es de moy la quintessence

Composer

François Regnard

Source

Poésies de P. de Ronsard … , Le Roy & Ballard 1579

(text on Lieder.net site here)
(blog entry not yet available)
(listen to the score here)
(recorded extract here, source: Ensemble Clément Janequin, Chansons sur des Poèmes de Ronsard)

 

Here Regnard’s 5th voice is an extra tenor, but with a fairly low alto part as well he fluidly switches between a texture which is in effect melody + 4-part harmony, and an ensemble opposing the 2 upper voices and the 3 lower ones. (There are of course other combinations as well.) It’s an attractive piece, whose melodic invention is enhanced by the way the ensemble keeps changing.

Once again, the Ensemble Clément Janequin provide the recording. In this case they choose a rather mournful pace & a similalry consistent texture throughout – unofrtunately, as I think they could have made this sound rather better!  I’ve provided bars 38-63.

 

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Utendal – Petite nimfe folatre

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Title

Petite nimfe folatre

Composer

Alexander Utendal  (c. 1543-1581)

Source

Fröhliche neue Teutsche und Frantzösische Lieder, Dieterich Gerlach (Nuremberg) 1574

(text on Lieder.net site here)
(blog entry here)
(listen to the score here)
(recorded extract here:  source, Hofmusik auf Schloss Ambras: Froeliche newe Teutsche vnnd Frantzoesische Lieder, Neue Innsbrucker Hofkapelle)

 

It’s a while since we had a song from outside France, so let’s return to Utendal – the Flemish-Belgian working in Innsbruck, who published a mix of French and German songs in 1574. This is nearer the chordal French style than some of his other settings, but he knows how to make it an attractive piece, with some more adventurous melody & harmony than his French contemporaries, and he varies the flow of the music with rests and particularly with triple-time segments (occasionally very short – bars 60ff of the second part – for specific effects) as well as ‘syncopations’ (dotted rhythms) and occasional melismatic ‘runs’, with imitation from voice to voice. A very accomplished and attractive piece.

And to go with the score, a lovely recording too. This comes from the Neue Innsbrucker Hofkapelle, who recorded the entire Utendal book in a concert at the very castle in Innsbruck where Utendal wrote it. They shape the music – perhaps a shade too much – and consequently perhaps this song goes a little slower than it might; but it’s beautifully-sung. The extract is from the top of page 7 to the bottom of page 8 (bars 36-57 of the second part), which includes some imitative runs and the single triple-time bars showing their effect.

 

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