Category Archives: songs (5vv)

songs for 5 voices

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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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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Regnard – Las de quels maux

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[I don’t know if ‘translator’s block’ is as real as writer’s block, but that’s what it feels like! So in lieu of posting nothing, I’ll put up some more song transcriptions. Apologies to those who are waiting for the completion of Amours 1, or the addition of other Ronsard works…]

 

Title

Las de quels maux, amour, et de combien

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)
(recording not available)

 

Another beautiful, if melancholy, 5-voice setting by Regnard, this time a very extended setting. Yet still it is not a complete sonnet – in fact Regnard has used the middle section of a sonnet, rather oddly setting an odd number, 7 lines, of poetry!

Like so many of these later 16th-century settings, it’s not yet made it onto record!

 

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Pevernage – Ces deux yeux bruns

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Title

Ces deux yeux bruns, deux flambeaux de ma vie

Composer

André (Andries) Pevernage  (c. 1542-1591)

Source

Livre troisieme des chansons d’André Pevernage, Maistre de la Chapelle de l’Eglise Cathédrale d’Anvers, Christophe Plantin, 1590

(text on Lieder.net site here)
(blog entry here)
(listen to the score here)
(recorded extract here, source: Les Amours de Mai, Julianne Baird & Parthenia viol consort)

 

Following the short setting from book 2, we can see Pevernage approaching this poem with more ambition: a full-length 2-part setting, in a gloriously varied 5-voice setting. There are only 5 whole bars in the first 5 pages where all 5 voices are singing together, with constantly-varying groupings of 3 and 4 voices taking most of the music except for cimaxes which use the full 5 voice complement. (The last 2 pages of the first part add seven more bars in 5 continuous voices, but also still have rests interrupting the full-choir sound.)

Note also the flexibility in the vocal parts – overlapping, repeating or borrowing phrases, or just going their own way: it’s a very good 5-part structure. Again, in Pevernage’s next song, we’ll see a very different approach as he expands his ambition again.

The recorded extract comes from an album by the Parthenia viol consort, here with Julianne Baird. You can readily hear the lines interweaving, though perhaps the effect of Pevernage’s variety is less obvious than with a fully-choral performance? (The extract runs from page 3 to the beginning of page 6.)

 

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Regnard – Ny nuit ne jour

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Title

Ny nuit ne jour je ne fay que songer

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 here, source: Ensemble Clément Janequin, Chansons sur des Poèmes de Ronsard)

 

An attractive setting from Regnard: though we ought to have some sympathy for the contra. She (or he, in the recording) spends over half the song constrained to a range of a third – most of pages 2-6 – though with a few chromatic notes Regnard does manage to create an interesting part for most of the time!

Regnard once again shows his preference for short texts: a 6-line setting this time, though he gives it quite an extended setting.

Again, we depend on the Ensemble Clément Janequin for a recording. (This song, incidentally, is the one they choose to open their disc with.) The extract runs from the bottom of p3 to the top of page 6, and shows the variety of movement Regnard achieves, together with the ‘illustrative’ tendencies of the style – running notes for ‘rit’ (laugh), longer notes for the pain s of love at the beginning of the extract…

 

 

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