Category Archives: songs (8vv)

Pevernage – Bon jour mon coeur

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Title

Bon jour mon coeur

Composer

André Pevernage

Source

Livre quatrieme des chansons d’André Pevernage… (published by Christophe Plantin, Antwerp)

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

 

Today, the culmination of Pevernage’s brief engagement with Ronsard: in his 4th book, he expands his forces again for the Ronsard poem, and presents an 8-voice setting. The style is – inevitably – different again. The individual voices tend to work in neat segments, often starting mid-bar and ending neatly at the end of a bar. this helps the double-choir effects, but also helps Pevernage keep things under control! But this is not a double-choir piece, nor is it an exercise in monumentality: in fact, if we set aside the half-bars of overlap between one phrase ending in one group, and the next starting in another, there are only a couple of bars of the full 8-voice sonority until right at the end (three-and-a-half bars only, even then!)

Although Pevernage begins with double-choir effects, he quickly starts playing with the format – adding one voice from the first choir to the second choir, but dropping the bass from that second choir; then mixing up 3 voices from each choir; and virtually every other combination of 5, 6, 7 or 8 voices he can manage. It’s cleverly and beautifully done, and confirms the impression gained from his previous pieces of a very capable composer. My only complaint is that the ending is not, in my view, adequately prepared and the final cadence and full stop all comes rather suddenly.

Sadly, modern recording has not yet reached most of Pevernage’s work! So, I am unable to offer more than the midi effects of the score …

(This is of course one of the most popular texts for Ronsard songs: you may wish to compare the very famous setting by Lassus, and the slightly less well-known one by de Monte.)
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Lassus – O doux parler

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Title

O doux parler, dont l’apast douceureux

Composer

Roland de Lassus / Orlando di Lasso

Source

Les Meslanges d’Orlande de Lassus, 1576

 

(text on Lieder.net site here)
(blog entry here)
(listen to the score here)
(recorded extract here – source: Kühn chamber choir “Pierre de Ronsard et la musique“)

 

After recently posting Lassus’ 8-voice setting of the ‘dialogue between Ronsard and the dove’, here I offer the other 8-voice dialogue. This time the dialogue is an artificial one created by Lassus out of Ronsard’s poem, but the techniques are similar and the setting just as beautiful.  [EDIT: my own transcription, replacing the one by Expert which is still in copyright.]

The recorded extract is from the beginning of the ‘seconde partie’, again showing the antiphonal effects.

[In re-editing this score, I’ve taken a less conservative view of the harmonies, ‘regularising’ fewer of the notes which don’t quite fit a ‘tonal’ structure than Expert did – on the basis that Lassus was still working in a modal system rather than modern tonality. There is one oddity at bar 35 where the second Contra part has a B marked with the sign which normally sharpens a natural note or ‘naturals’ a B-flat. As there is no B-flat in the ‘key signature’, I’ve taken this as, literally, a B-sharp (=C). Expert treats it as a B natural. The relevant bit of the score is appended.]

 

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Lassus’s B-sharp is in the second line, the second “O baisers…” LasODP-C2

Lassus – Que dis-tu, que fais-tu?

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Title

Que dis-tu, que fais-tu, pensive Tourterelle?

Composer

Roland de Lassus / Orlando di Lasso

Source

Les Meslanges d’Orlande de Lassus, 1576

(text on recmusic.org/lieder site here)
(blog entry here)
(listen to the score here)
(recorded extract here – source: Kühn chamber choir “Pierre de Ronsard et la musique“)

 

As composers became more ambitious in their song-writing, and presumably as perfromers became more skilled too, the ‘standard’ 4-part song expanded. We’ve had del Mel’s 5-part song, and 5 parts became ‘the new four’ for songs. Others with 6 or 7 parts are less common, but songs in 8 parts – often for two divided choirs, in other words 4 voices x 2 – were more popular. A particular favourite was the dialogue-poem which enabled words (and musical ideas) to be bounced from one side of the stage to the other, and for the choirs to come together for grand effect. Ronsard offered a few tempting choices, and the most-favoured was this sonnet.

Lassus sets it in a much more varied and interesting style than Certon’s sonnet from 25 years earlier. He uses homophony when he wants effects or for dramatic contrast – e.g. both the references to death  (‘nommant la mort meschant’, ‘voudroys-tu bien mourir?’) are picked out in this way – but mostly the voices overlap and run around each other. Lassus’s excellence is heard in the way the words never disappear as they do, but remain clear and in the foreground. He wasn’t called ‘the divine Orlando’ for nothing!

The recorded extract is from near the beginning, showing some of the antiphonal choir activity.

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Here are the pages from the 1576 print:  with the title page & the end-paper decoration.  Note that, presumably to do with who had which part-books, the ‘firsts’ and ‘seconds’ in the parts do not form coherent choirs! So, choir 1 (in the transcription) is S1-C1-T2-B2, and choir 2 is S2-C2-T1-B1… I’ve put the parts below in that order; as you’ll note the initial ‘Q’ gives a good hint as to which choir you’re in!

LasQDT-title LasQDT-S1 LasQDT-C1 LasQDT-T2 LasQDT-B2 LasQDT-S2 LasQDT-C2 LasQDT-T1 LasQDT-B1 LasQDT-end