Category Archives: songs (4vv)

songs for 4 voices

Utendal – Las, force m’est

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Title

Las, force m’est qu’en brulant je me taise

Composer

Alexander Utendal

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, Utendal: Fröliche neue teutsche und frantzösiche Lieder, Kathelijne van Laethem with Romanesque)

 

Another short setting by Utendal, just taking the first quatrain of Ronsard’s sonnet, but using plenty of chromatic notes on the way! Effectively, Utendal is exploring a range of ‘foreign’ keys in a very short time, and it gives the song an attractively rich and complex sound. The rapid movement in crotchets also works well to obscure the essentially homophonic texture.

 

 

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Certon – Las! pour vous trop aymer

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Title

Las! pour vous trop aymer je ne vous puis aymer

Composer

Pierre Certon

Source

Neufiesme Livre de Chansons, Le Roy & Ballard 1559

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

 

After Clereau, back to Certon. And you can hear the difference, even though this is Certon on good form! The homophony is more insistent, even though there are plenty of melismatic moments to break it up, and the word-setting is also a little less clever. And Certon seems to gain no inspiration for the opening self-contradiction in the poem – “I love you too much to love you properly” – which, to my mind, really ought to have generated some sort of musical gesture to underline it. (I don’t count a rising melody for the first half, and then a corresponding fall in the second half, as much of a gesture!) That said, Bertrand -the only other contemporary to set this text – also makes little of it …

A point of interest is the repeat at the end: a simple repeat for 3 of the voices, but the bass has an extra written-out half-line which varies his contribution the second time round, off-setting it from the other voices differently and making the return to the repeat sound comnpletely fresh. Here at least Certon shows his mastery of his art!

 

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Clereau – Je ne veux plus

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Title

Je ne veux plus que chanter de tristesse

Composer

Pierre Clereau  (c.1520-c.1567)

Source

Dixiesme 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 here, live recording by Ensemble Enthéos, but now available on their disc Le chant des poètes)

 

Here is Clereau’s version of a song set by Lassus and others – though Clereau’s version is nearly 15 years earlier than Lassus’, and not surprisingly somewhat different in style. That said, it is still quite ‘modern’ in its approach, flexing the generally-homophonic word-setting with assorted short melismas in the different voices to create musical interest rather than just shifting chords on each syllable. It sits on the page opposite ‘Mais dequoy sert’, presenting a nice message about Clereau’s flexibility in approaching Ronsard.

One curiosity is Clereau’s use of ‘triplet’ figures as an alternative to a dotted figure: see bar 34 at the bottom of page 2, where the superius has the triplet while two other voices have the dotted figure. I’ve left the parts as marked by Clereau, but in performance I imagine the two would be sung the same.

The recording isfrom YouTube, though now (I think) no longer available since the group produced their CD version. They performed the song twice, once as solo with instruments, once as a four-part choir. I’ve extracted the opening of the solo version, then jumped to the middle of page 3 in the choral version.

 

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Clereau – Mais dequoy sert

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Title

Mais dequoy sert le desirer

Composer

Pierre Clereau (or Cler’eau)  (c.1520-c.1567)

Source

Dixiesme Livre de Chansons, Le Roy & Ballard 1559

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

 

Time to meet another composer. Clereau’s first published song also appeared under Pierre Certon’s name, and the two have stylistic similarities as well as that of their name.

Clereau was obviously popular and well-known enough to merit a whole book to himself: Le Roy & Ballard’s 10th book was devoted entirely to his works, in contrast with all the other numbered volumes in the series; and in the same year a book of his 3-part songs also appeared. Nevertheless the information we have today about him is sparse. He was quite a prolific Ronsard-setter too, so will be appearing here frequently!

clereauHis style, while broadly homophonic, is often attractive – more so (in my view) than Certon’s. And this is a nice example of one of his simple yet attractive songs.

Little of Clereau has been recorded – just three of the Ronsard songs as far as I know – and unfortunately this is not one of them… Watch this space, though: there will be some Clereau to listen to soon.

 

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Utendal – Plus tu cognois

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Title

Plus tu cognois que je brule pour toy

Composer

Alexander Utendal

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, Utendal: Fröliche neue teutsche und frantzösiche Lieder, Romanesque with Stephan MacLeod)

 

A second song from Utendal. Here he is more ‘French’ in style. Though not strictly homophonic, the voices move much more closely together than in the previous song we saw; although the recorded extract is performed (as before) in ‘melody + accompaniment’ style, this masks some of the attractive passagework in the voices other than the tenor.

This is also the third setting of this poem I’ve posted: the others are by Millot and Sweelinck. The latter is supported by a recorded extract too. There are several more settings to come; this was one of the more popular poems to set, perhaps because it is succinct, and can be rendered complete in a short 8-line setting!

The extract here is roughly the last page of music, the end of the song, as it ‘dies’ away just like the lover in the poem.

 

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Utendal – Si je trespasse

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Title

Si je trepasse

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, Utendal: Fröliche neue teutsche und frantzösiche Lieder, Romanesque with Stephan MacLeod)

 

It’s time to welcome another composer, as we continue our jouney through the contemporary Ronsard settings. This set is, to me, very special – because it was not seen by Genevieve Thibault when she compiled her monumental bibliography, and so finding it existed was, for me, very very exciting! The full title is Fröhliche neue Teutsche und Frantzösische Lieder, lieblich zu singen auch auf allerley Instrumenten zugebrauchen, nach zonderer art der Music Componirt, mit vier fünff und mehr stimmen. The book consists of 13 German songs (printed, of course, in ‘black letter’ Gothic), and 13 French songs, printed in a clear Roman script! Here’s the contents page:

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As you can see, most of the 13 French songs are by Ronsard, so you’ll be seeing plenty more of Utendal’s work  🙂

Who was he, and why this mixed-language collection? Utendal was one of that band of Flemish ex-pats who travelled across Europe earning fame and, sometimes, fortune from their music. Coming from Flemish Ghent he moved eastwards to the Holy Roman Empire rather than west to France or south to Italy; and ended up at the court of Ferdinand II of the Tyrol, in Innsbruck. He wasn’t the first significant composer there: Jacob Regnart (no relation to ‘our’ Regnard) was his predecessor and wrote fine polyphony.

Utendal is a ‘late’ voice, and so his music is already turning towards more baroque styles: he often writes a prominent ‘tune’ with accompaniment rather than classic polyphony. (He was himself an alto, so perhaps took his own melodies.)

This makes his music ideal for treatment as a ‘lute song’: here the tenor line is sung with the other parts on the lute. The tenor was often, earlier in medieval and renaissance music, the ‘tune’, though it was buried in the middle of the texture – hence its name, the ‘tenor’ being the one who ‘holds’ (Latin: tenet) the tune. In tat sense this performance is perhaps looking backwards rather than forwards. But it is an accomplished piece: Utendal knew what he was doing, it’s just not the same style someone like Lassus was writing in.

 

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Millot – Bel Aubepin verdissant

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Title

Bel Aubepin verdissant

Composer

Nicolas Millot

Source

Neufiesme Livre de Chansons, Le Roy & Ballard 1559

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

 

Posting another Millot song I quoted Frank Dobbins telling us how Millot worked in an older, more homophonic style – which that song did not fit! Here, then, is Millot in old-fashioned style, almost relentlessly homophonic. Only the openings of phrases, or the cadences, really depart from the regular chordal progress; apart from the occasional dotted figures in one voice or another creating a little pleasing variety.  Yet, Millot manages the ‘limitations’ of this style with aplomb, creating variety and interest throughout, never letting the song sink into monotonous rhythm, and producing a rather attractive setting!

Sadly, no-one has recorded it, so I cannot demonstrate its attractiveness other than through the ‘midi’ version I’ve linked to, above…

 

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