Sunday, August 20, 2017
Two of the greatest opera composers of the 20th century both happened to be gay and ardent pacifists. We examine their musical commentaries this week with Der Prinz von Homburg by Hans Werner Henze and Owen Wingrave by Benjamin Britten. Henze is, for me, perhaps the most underrated, underperformed composer in recent memory. His catalogue of operas contains some masterworks – Der junge Lord, Boulevard Solitude, Elegy for Young Lovers, Pollicino, and Das verratene Meer just to name a few, all of which I’ve seen – but his symphonic works are equally thrilling. Having missed New York City Opera’s production of Der junge Lord in the early 1970s, I became acquainted with Henze music when his third symphony was utilized as the score for Glen Tetley’s ballet Gemini when I attended its American premiere by American Ballet Theater in 1975 with Cynthia Gregory, Martine van Hamel, Jonas Kage, and Charles Ward. I immediately ran out and bought the Deutsche Grammophon collection of his (then) complete symphonies. I twice attended performances of his full-evening ballet Orpheus with choreography by the up-and-coming, 29-year-old William Forsythe when performed by the Stuttgart Ballet in a nearly-empty Metropolitan Opera House in June 1979. The first Henze opera I attended was Das verratene Meer at San Francisco Opera in 1991 (it was not broadcast, so my high-quality in-house recording will surface here one of these days). Der Prinz von Homburg, completed in 1958 with a Hamburg premiere in 1960, is drawn from the 1811 play Prinz Friedrich von Homburg by Heinrich von Kleist. For the Prince’s dreamy demeanor, Henze was inspired by German and Austrian music from the past by composers such as Bach, Beethoven, and Mahler; the militaristic characters are characterized by 12-tone music influenced by Stravinsky and Schoenberg and other members of the Second Viennese School. Nikolaus Lehnhoff’s 1992 production for the Bayerische Staatsoper, filmed and released on DVD, was sent to London and given by the ENO in 1996 in English translation. The source for this week’s upload comes from Theater an der Wien, which presented a stunning production by Christof Loy in 2009 as a vehicle for Christian Gerhaher. Contemporary music specialist Marc Albrecht leads the Wiener Symphoniker in the Austrian premiere of Henze’s 1991 revision. Owen Wingrave was Britten’s penultimate opera, conceived to fulfill a commission by the BBC for a television opera. Based on a Henry James short story, the opera was completed in 1970, filmed at Snape Maltings, and first broadcast in May 1971 in the UK. Benjamin Luxon took the title role in a cast which included John Shirley-Quirk, Janet Baker, Heather Harper, and, of course, Peter Pears. I recall its American premiere on PBS shortly thereafter and was spellbound from the gamelan-influenced introduction and the haunting images of the interior of Paramore, the Wingrave family manse which is a character in itself. More than with his earlier works, Britten experimented with the 12-tone serialist techniques and large tuned percussion sections which permeate his next and final opera, Death in Venice. About the work’s pacifist message, Britten labeled it his response to the Vietnam War. A stage premiere at Covent Garden in 1973 was a failure and the opera lay neglected till the end of the century. After a 1997 Glyndebourne revival, the work, often performed with reduced orchestration, has been given in London, Chicago, Vienna (by the now-defunct Wiener Kammeroper), and in Frankfurt in 2010 in a production by Walter Sutcliffe, the source of this week’s performance. Just as Henze conceived Prinz Friedrich Artur von Homburg for a lyric baritone, Owen Wingrave is performed by Michael Nagy, who shot to stardom as Wolfram von Eschenbach, one of the few saving graces of Bayreuth’s Tannhäuser from 2011 through 2013 (incidentally, Wolfram was the role of Christian Gerhaher’s Wiener Staatsoper debut in the premiere of Claus Guth’s2010 production). Owen’s sympathetic teacher, Spencer Coyle, is sung by Dietrich Volle, a brother of Michael Volle. This also takes us closer to completing the operas of Britten: look for Gloriana, Albert Herring and the three Church Parables in the coming months. Your alte Jungfer will, once again, kindly urge you to not be afraid of operas which contain atonal passages. Both scores are dazzling in their versatility and superb vocal writing.
David Geffen Hall at Lincoln Center. Orchestra (Seat D8, $50). Pre-Concert RecitalFrauenliebe und -leben, Op. 42 (1840) by Schumann (1810-1856).Susanna Phillips, soprano; Louis Langree, piano. ProgramVariations on a Theme by R. Schumann for piano solo (1854) by Brahms (1833-1897).Piano Concerto in A minor (1841-45) by Schumann.Symphony No. 1 in C minor (1862-76) by Brahms. The attendance for the pre-concert event was good, although not as good as the one at the last concert we attended. And those that chose not to make it missed a good one. First, I admit I am not one into art songs, so I usually just acknowledge them and go to the next piece. And I also complain about the acoustics for voices against orchestras in this auditorium. Perhaps due to the (particularly) weak-sounding piano, Susanna Phillip’s voice carried very well, from beginning to end of this 20-minute program. She sang clearly, with the right mix of emotions, and told the story well. One thing I am not sure about is how good her German is, I am quite sure she got the pronunciation of many words wrong. Evidently Langree is a competent pianist (few conductors start out in life as one), although he could have pounded the keys a bit harder, in my opinion. Schumann took all of two days to set eight of Adalbert von Chamisso’s poems into music after he learned all the legal challenges put up by Clara Wieck’s father were resolved. “A Woman’s Love and Live” traces the narrator’s adult life of courtship, pregnancy, motherhood, and death of her husband. The poems are: (i) Seit ich ihn gesehen (Since Seeing Him); (ii) Er, der Herrlichste von allen (He, the Most Wonderful of All); (iii) Ich kann’s nicht fassen, nicht glauben (I Cannot Grasp It, Believe It); (iv) Du Ring an meinem Finger (Ring on My Finger); (v) Helft mir, ihr Schwestern (Help Me, Sisters); (vi) Susser Freund, du blickest (Sweet Friend, You Look); (vii) An meinem Herzen, an meiner Brust (At My Heart, at My Breast); and (viii) Nun hast du mir den ersten Schmerz getan (Now Have You Caused Me My First Pain). I found it a bit curious that the commentator saw the need to rationalize some of the non-gender-equal tone in the lyrics to accommodate the sensitivities of today’s audience. Susanna Phillips, with Louis Langree looking on, after she sang the Schumann songs. As noted both by Gerstein and Langree, the main program also threw Brahms and his relationship with the Schumann’s into the mix. The variations were written by Brahms in 1854, a year of great difficult for Robert (he was already in an asylum) and Clara (pregnant with their seventh child); and Brahms was developing an infatuation for Clara, to boot. A year earlier, Clara showed Brahms a set of variations she wrote based on a subject written by Robert. Brahms then composed these variation with the inscription “Short variations on a theme by Him, dedicated to Her.” By the time the music was published, it was certainly not short (lasting close to 20 minutes). I don’t remember ever hearing it before, but it was quite enjoyable, and I am sure the enjoyment will increase as I get to know the music and its structure. The Clara variations will be performed at another Mostly Mozart event. The Schumann piano concerto was clearly a piece written for the virtuoso, and Gerstein delivered. Our seats were on the right front part of the orchestra, so we saw mostly his face as he was playing, but the piano sound came through clearly. For encore, Gerstein played the slow movement of a piano sonata composed by Clara but orchestrated by Robert . The cello was the only instrument (exception for the last part where the timpani was added) used and Gerstein described it as a love duet between Clara and Robert. Brahms’s first symphony took a mere 22 years, if one counts as the starting point Brahms’s first sketches for the work. Much has been said about how this work was in the tradition of Beethoven’s Symphonies – including Brahms’s own remark “any ass can see that.” I can certainly get that similarity, but do not have enough understanding of Beethoven’s symphonies to called this the “tenth.” Except for the theme of the last movement, I was mostly unfamiliar with this work. Our seats so close to the stage reminded me of some of the shortcomings of the orchestra. Today it was hearing the individual string players “too clearly.” The orchestra roster has a few impressive names: Cobb is NY Phil’s principal bass, Rhoten is the principal timpanist, Finkelshteyn is the principal cello of Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra. Kirill Gerstein after the Schumann Piano Concerto. Perhaps this is the summer season, or perhaps of my lower expectations, I really enjoyed this concert, not losing patience like I did with the last concert. We had a simple dinner at Europan.
By Jacob Stockinger The Ear has heard many themes for concerts and festivals. But he really, really likes the title of this year’s Token Creek Chamber Music Festival (below, inside the refurbished barn that serves as a concert hall). It runs from Aug. 26 through Sept. 3. Here is a link to complete details about the performers, the three programs and the five concerts that focus especially on the music of Johann Sebastian Bach and Franz Schubert, Maurice Ravel and Robert Schumann: https://welltempered.wordpress.com/2017/08/17/classical-music-this-years-token-creek-chamber-music-festival-will-explore-necessary-music-by-bach-schubert-schumann-ravel-harbison-and-other-composers-from-aug-26-thr/ The theme or concept is NECESSARY MUSIC. Of course, as the festival press release says, the Token Creek organizers recognize that the whole idea is subjective, so they refuse to be prescriptive: “In what way, and for whom is a certain kind of music necessary? “Certainly the presenters of a chamber music festival would be presumptuous to offer a program as a sort of prescription for listeners. And at Token Creek we won’t. “So often the music we need arrives by chance, and we did not even know we needed it until it appears. And other times we know exactly what we are missing. And so we offer this year’s programs of pieces that feed the soul.” The Ear likes that concept. And he thinks it applies to all of us. So today he wants to know: What music is NECESSARY FOR YOU and WHAT MAKES IT NECESSARY Of course, the idea of necessary music changes over time and in different circumstances. Do you need relief from the anxiety of political news? Are you celebrating a happy event? Are you recovering from some kind of personal sadness or misfortune? But right now, what piece or pieces of music – or even what composer – do you find necessary and why? In the COMMENT section, please tell us what it is and what makes it necessary? And please include a link to a YouTube video performance, if possible. The Ear wants to hear. Tagged: anxiety , Arts , Bach , Baroque , Beethoven , Cello , Chamber music , chance , choral music , circumstances , Classical music , concept , Concert , Early music , event , festival , Franz Schubert , George Crumb , George Frideric Handel , happy' , idea , Jacob Stockinger , Johann Sebastian Bach , Johannes Brahms , listener , Ludwig van Beethoven , Madison , misfortune , Mozart , Music , necessary , occasion , opera , Orchestra , performance , personal , Piano , pieces , political , Politics , prescriptive , presenter , program , Ravel , sadness , Schumann , Sonata , soul , subjective , symphony , theme , time , Token Creek Chamber Music Festival , United States , University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Music , University of Wisconsin–Madison , video , Viola , Violin , vocal music , Wisconsin , Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart , YouTube
BEETHOVEN Symphony No. 1, Symphony No. 2Symphony No. 3, Coriolan Overture Recorded in stereo in 1957 & 1959 The Philharmonia Orchestra Otto Klemperer, conductor Pristine Classical PABX012 (stereo), (P) 2013 FLACs, artwork BEETHOVEN Symphony No. 4, Symphony No. 5 Symphony No. 6, Große Fuge Recorded in stereo between 1956 & 1959 The Philharmonia Orchestra Otto Klemperer, conductor FLACs, artwork BEETHOVEN Symphony No.7, Symphony No. 8Symphony No. 9 Recorded in stereo 1957 & 1960 Aase Nordmo Løvberg soprano; Christa Ludwig alto Waldemar Kmentt tenor; Hans Hotter bass The Philharmonia Chorus and Philharmonia Orchestra Otto Klemperer conductor CD Layout:CD1: Symphonies 1 and 2CD2: Symphony 3 and Coriolan OvertureCD3: Symphonies 4 and 5CD4: Symphony 6 and Große FugeCD5: Symphonies 7 and 8CD6: Symphony 9 Fanfare ReviewThere is a perceptible improvement to be enjoyed as a result of Rose’s remastering efforts These releases represent a sonic update by Andrew Rose of the well-known and highly regarded Klemperer EMI Kingsway Hall releases from 1956-60, plus the Grosse Fuge recorded at Abbey Road Studio One. Though EMI pressings of that era could be noisy and sometimes less than luminous, the master tapes themselves have always been considered to represent the best that was possible in early stereo, and listeners have been able to enjoy them on CD for some time now without having to make too many allowances for antiquity. There is nonetheless a perceptible improvement to be enjoyed as a result of Rose’s remastering efforts. The sound here seems to have had a veil lifted from the treble, and the general effect of comparing these CDs side by side with the EMI releases is to note a greater kaleidoscopic and reverberant depth as a result of Rose’s efforts. These CDs sound nearly modern in their lack of “flatness.” And for long stretches one nearly forgets entirely the age of the endeavor. Of course, dynamics in climaxes tend to back away from the listener a bit, and the price of greater luminosity is sometimes a slight metallic tinge to the reverberant field. But all of this is so subtle, that the general effect is of a nearly modern set of recordings. There is little real distortion. A happy plus in these releases is the inclusion as liner notes of the original Gramophone reviews from the cycle. Rehearing after many years, I’m struck by how normal Klemperer’s pacing actually is, for a conductor often accused of slowness. He was clearly in full vigor for these interpretations. And the Philharmonia of his era was an elegant orchestra, as close as Britain ever got to replicating the smoothness and elision of phrasing possible in Berlin and Vienna. It does not hurt that the other major conductor most associated with recording the Philharmonia during this period was Herbert von Karajan! Karajan consciously aimed to combine the electricity of Toscanini with the smoother and more metaphysical view favored by Furtwängler. Klemperer, by contrast, sought a slower and more consistently rounded approach, not unlike Furtwängler’s, but without Furtwängler’s sudden shifts in tempo. The Fifth and Seventh symphonies make for good cases in point. Listening is like watching a powerful railroad train from the air. The train moves massively and even swiftly. It does not seem to slow down going uphill, nor speed-up going down. It leans slightly into curves, but its weight carries it around them at full speed. One is aware of great mass-in-motion and the sheer impressiveness of its unstoppability. Indeed, this power is so striking, one is tempted to extend the metaphor and suggest that period-performance practices of the present day are giving us toy trains! Back in the early 1960s, much was made of how slowly the scherzo in the “Pastorale” came across in Walter’s Columbia Symphony recording—and it was commented that Klemperer’s recording was even slower. But listening with fresh ears, I’m struck by how well Klemperer’s tempo comports with a group of people actually dancing. If you were watching a folk dance on the village green, the participants would most likely move at a tempo like this—one which takes into account the sheer physics of mass and movement. Thought about this way, the more common “Pastorale” tempo choices often seem cartoonish and un-danceable. In general, when it comes to phrasing Beethoven, an irreverent analysis might go like this: Toscanini—dogs sneezing; Karajan—a bullet train; Klemperer—a hundred car freight train. I’m happy to be a hobo on this one. Save me a boxcar! Steven KrugerThis article originally appeared in Issue 36:6 (July/Aug 2013) of Fanfare Magazine.
I think the problem is that, since the Second World War, we have confused "daring" with "breaking rules for the sake of doing so." Beethoven was a great rules-bender, rather than rule-breaker. Even his most outrageous pieces, like the late quartets, are still within classical forms. He doesn't smash [the guidelines set down by his predecessors]. For me, that creates interesting tension.
Boulanger Ensemble French Renaissance Music Vocal and instrumental ensemble under the direction of Nadia Boulanger Original release: Decca LP DL 9629 (1950) Pristine Classical PACO 022, (P) 2007 FLACs, inserts, notes from the original LP Mille regretz (Josquin des Pres)Ce moys de may (Clement Janequin)Helas, mon Dieu (Psalm from "Second livre des Meslanges") (Claude Le Jeune)Bon jour, mon coeur (from "Meslanges") (Orlando de Lassus)Noblesse git au coeur ("Musique 1570") (Guillaume Costeley)Quand mon mary vient de dehors (Orlando de Lassus)A declarer mon affection ("31 Chansons Musicales") (anonymous)Mignonne, allons voir si la Rose ("Musique 1570") (Guillaume Costeley)Hau, hau, hau le boys! ("31 Chansons Musicales") (Claudin de Serimsy)Revecy venire du Printemps ("Le Printemps," 1513) (Claude Le Jeune)Vous me tuez si doucement ("Chansonettes Mesurees") (Jacques Mauduit)Tu ne l'enten pas, c'est latin (Claude Le Jeune)Au joly boys ("31 Chansons Musicales") (Claudin de Sermisy)Francion vint l'autre jour (Pierre Bonnet)Le Chant des Oyseaux (Clement Jannequin) Notes by Nadia Boulanger from the original Decca LP Every work of art is a triumph of technique. From a certain happy arrangement of words, lines, colors, or sounds, beauty is suddenly born. How? It would be very difficult to say, for the essence escapes analysis. The masters of the Renaissance, admirable artisans that they were, knew this well. To be sure, always having taken pains to do a good job wherever the responsibility and the dignity of the artist were concerned, they put themselves in the hands of the gods when it came to going beyond the limits where human control ends. Even at the risk of offending some people, it is fair to assume that emotion is not the fruit of idle sentimentality but of a complete command of means. “Whoever wants to write down his dream owes it to himself to be infinitely awake” (Paul Valery). It is certain that "this secret and almost incredible power of moving hearts in one way or another," as Calvin put it, results from the very nature of the form, of melodic curve, rhythmic life, lengthening and contracting of cadences, relation of intervals, both melodic and harmonic – in short, of the thousand and one elements of which music is made.This is not the place to undertake a detailed study of these elements. The object of this short introduction is simply to invite the listener to take advantage of the joys that can be brought to him by the treasure of an art as much alive today as ever. In the preface to the first volume of his admirable collection, Maitres musiciens de la Renaissance Française, Henry Expert says: "It is a question of rescuing the music of a great century from the oblivion in which until recently its poetry was still slumbering; and, while enriching the history of art, of uncovering an unexplored comer of the French spirit." This record has been planned to highlight some representative types of this music and make a sort of synthesis of them. A few remarks to point out the outstanding characteristics of each piece will therefore be in order. Closely allied to poetry and composed almost entirely for vocal ensemble, situated in time at the boundaries of modality and tonality, counterpoint and harmony, written by men who belonged to both church and court and who were deeply influenced by the Reformation and in a different sense by the rediscovered ancients, "the musical art of the 16th century is the reflection of the mind, life, and morals of this age when social and religious institutions as well as artistic and literary traditions were clashing in a passionate conflict, when character soared, unfolding the inmost qualities of our race." (Henry Expert) 1. Mille regretz (Josquin des Pres, 1450-1521) A priceless piece, very pure example of the mode of E transposed to F sharp. Notice the still predominant role of the tenor and the extremely subtle contrapuntal details. Nevertheless, the overall effect is one of extreme simplicity. A thousand regrets that I must leave you. My heart is so full of mourning and sorrow that my days will soon come to their end. 2. Ce moys de may (Clement Jannequin, 1493-1560?) "31 Chansons musicales" (Attaignant, 1529) This little song, bright and fresh, is written in major on a double-iambic rhythmical pattern starting on the upbeat. At times the rhythm is reversed, and this slight modification produces a great effect. Notice also the three-voice passages, the imitation between the soprano and the tenor, and the varied resting places of the melody. Early one morning this beautiful month of May, I'll don my green frock and skip forth to win my lover's embrace. 3. Hélas, mon Dieu (Claude Le Jeune, 1528-1600) Psalm from the "Second livre des Meslanges," 1612 (Posthumous work) Henry Expert says: "This psalm is certainly one of the boldest, the most innovational, and also the most moving works of our music of the Renaissance: such a page honors a great artist."The voices are here doubled by the instruments, as was rather usual. "It should be noted that during the 16th century the customary practice was to accompany the vocal concert with whatever instruments were available," writes Henry. Expert. The striking effect produced by this great piece depends on the overlapping entries of the chromatic, descending motive with its succession of major and minor thirds, a superb instance of the mislabeled “false relation.” Notice also the alteration of slow dactyIs, doubly fast iambs, and anapests; the "polyrhythmic" intricate contrapuntal imitations; the plain syllabic periods; the restatement of the solemn exposition; and the final broad plagal cadence. Alas, my God, thy wrath is turned against thy servant. Terror fills my heart, Virtue is gone from me. I cry unto Thee and seek Thee everywhere. Oh God, forsake me not! 4. Bonjour, mon coeur (Orlando de Lassus, 1532-1594) “Meslanges” (1576) Every note in this peerless piece deserves attention. The rhythmic pattern of the poetry (verses of 10 feet—4 + 6—followed by. verses of 7 feet), the alternation of dark and light syllables, the repetition and displacement of the words "Bon jour "—all these spur Orlando de Lassus to discoveries of the rarest and most delicate sensitivity. The movement from modality to tonality in each phrase gives the cadences a flavor of surprise,which is heightened by the way they are introduced. We know that Ronsard sang his verses when he composed them, as he himself says. The first edition of the “Amours” was accompanied by 32 sheets of “airs notes” by various composers. "Without music," stated Ronsard, "poetry is almost graceless, just as music without the melody of verses is inanimate and lifeless." Good day, my sweetheart, my pretty one, my dear love, my gentle dove. Good day, my sweet rebel. 5. Noblesse git au coeur (Guillaume Costeley, 1531-1606) "Musique 1570" Here Guillaume Costeley appears in an unfamiliar light. Charming and sprightly poet though he was, he had also his vein of austerity and depth. The passage from major to minor that results from a chromatic movement in "Helas, mon Dieu" occurs here between two voices. "False relation," say the theorists, but composers seem to have cared not the slightest about this condemnation. Notice the ornaments that break the severity of the syllabic ensemble, the contrapuntal passages that animate it, and the syncopated imitations motivated by the words "se lier à lui." Nobleness dwells in the heart of the virtuous man. Like fructuous trees, he brings forth good fruit in due season. Evil vanishes before him, and fear melts in his presence as wax before fire. Is not this what it means to live in nobleness? Is it not to such a man that one should bind oneself? 6. Quand mon mary vient de dehors (Orlando de Lassus) Here Orlando de Lassus paints a canvas à la Breughel, bright in color, extraordinarily alive and gay, even Rabelaisian. Ingenious musical artifices give this piece its vivacity: the dialogue at the beginning, the coming together of the two tonics G and D, the sudden entry of the four voices, and certain rhythmic juxtapositions. Whenever my husband comes home, it is my fate to be beaten. He is a jealous villain. I am young and he is old. 7. A déclarer mon affection (Anonymous) "31 Chansons Musicales" (Attaignant, 1529) This venerable modal piece, with its alteration of B flat and B natural, shows sobriety and intensity, brevity and grandeur, going hand in hand.After a slowly repeated chord (dactyl), the melody moves calmly in stepwise motion, stops on D, and then twists insistently around it. At the end of the piece this effect is made even more impressive by repetition and the imitative twining of the bass. Notice the eloquence of the bass's second phrase and later on the symmetrical ascent of the tenor (predominant throughout the whole work) that prepares the way for the expansion of the soprano. The low range, the almost constantly continuous movement of the voices, the rhythmic severity—all contribute a sort of lively immobility to this admirable composition. To declare my affection, my writing, which is full of passion, is enough. Whoever cannot regain this good, which all others surpasses, puts his hope in the Psalter, being sure of grace. 8. Mignonne, allon voir si la Rose (Guillaume Costeley) “Musique 1570" Poem by Pierre de Ronsard This is an exquisite and celebrated piece. The poem sings in every memory, the music is familiar to many; yet both sound ever new. Two elements follow each other. In the first (A), which is contrapuntal, and three-part without bass, the voices imitate each other, join together again (notice the point where all three are a second apart—G, .A, B flat), then separate anew. In the second (B), which is purely syllabic, they form little harmonic blocks, absolutely simultaneously: A+A+B+B+A+B+B.This seems a dry way to summarize this little masterpiece, but where is the point in trying to describe what it demonstrates so clearly by itself? Sweet love, let us see if the rose, which opened its crimson petals to the morning sun, has not this evening lost its bloom. Waste not your youth, for age will fade your beauty as the sun the rose. 9. Hau. hau, hau le boys! (Claudin de Sermisy, 1490-1562) "31 Chansons musicales" (Attaignant, 1629) One must not be misled: this robust, somewhat heavy drinking-song is not so simple as might be thought at first. Listen well and you will soon perceive the richness of its rhythmic combinations (binary and ternary), of its vocal grouping (massive blocks of the four voices, separated by entries bursting forth from all sides), and of its bright, open, perfect consonances. Let us take this opportunity to invite attention to what we might dare to call the "entry'" of the rests. A rest is more often the beginning of silence than merely the end of sound. It frequently has still another usage. For instance, if in a perfect triad the root is supplanted by a rest, the third tends to become a new root; if the fifth is supplanted by a rest, the root may become a new third. This elementary statement of the principle is one thing: the way it has been put into practice is another. One of the examples this piece offers of its use occurs immediately after the words "ie mv en vois" are heard in the men's voices. Once one has noticed how this process works, one will be struck by the abundance of examples to be found in virtually all subsequent music. Hau, halt, hau Ie boys! Let us pray God to guard this "gentle" wine of France. Let's drink six draughts, not only three, to clear our throats and sweeten our voices. The more we drink, the merrier we. Hau, halt, hau le boys! 10. Revecy venir du Printans (Claude Le Jeune) "Le Printemps," 1513 (Posthumous work in "Vers mesurès a l'antique") Here is one of the most characteristic pieces the Renaissance has left us, with its masterly writing and remarkable rhythm and form. All the verses except one are based on uu—u -u … that is, two shorts, a long and a short, a long and a short, and two longs. The ornaments that Mersenne calls crispaturae vocum ("vocal curls") represent here and there the small change. This work is composed of two elements: the rechant and the chant (refrain and strophe). The rechant is syllabic and in 5 voices (notice the vocalize of the tenor that adorns it): it is repeated without change, but the chant is exposed in varying versions, first by 2, then by 3, by 4, and finally by 5 voices. And so we have: R+A’+R+A”+R+ A’’’+R+A’’’’+R+R. Neither the listener’s ear nor his mind will fail to appreciate the masterly, exquisite way in which Claude Le Jeune has responded to the challenge of this form. Spring is here again, the beautiful season of love. Waters run clear, the sea calms its angry waves. The duck joyfully plunges into the pool. The sun shines more brightly, dispersing clouds and shadows. Cupid shoots his amours far and wide, and all nature rejoices. Let us, too, laugh and be merry to celebrate this gay season. 11. Vous me tuez si doucement (Jacques Mauduit, 1557-1627) "Chansonnettes mesurèes" by Jan-Antoine de Baif. It is well known what part Jacques Mauduit took in the work of the Académie du Palais, originally Academie de poesie et de musique, and at that time protected by Charles IX because its "associates worked to revive both the way of writing poetry and the measure and order of music used in ancient times by the Greeks and the Romans." Mauduit collaborated with J. A. de Baif, setting to music some of his psalms in measured verse and, according to Mersenne, wrote treatises on rhythm and on "the manner of making measured verses of all kinds in our language to give a special force and energy to the melody." The "chansonnettes mesurées" of J. A. de Baif inspired Mauduit to compose in the tenderest vein. In "Vous me tuez," the charm of the melody is emphasized by the elegant writing of the other parts, and the suppleness of the rhythm holds the attention Here again, it is thanks to technical means that the poetic emotion is engendered. You kill me so gently that I know nothing sweeter than such a death. I am so happy to be in love that I welcome the anguish. I seek nothing sweeter than to die thus. If we must die, let’s die of love. 12. Tu ne l'enten pas, c'est latin (Claude Le Jeune) How happy the age when the music for both light-hearted amusements and the most solemn ceremonies was composed by the same masters, when the essential principles were so solid that laughter could burst forth with the utmost freedom, and when a Claude Le Jeune, having written the admirable and severe “Hélas, mon Dieu” and the charming “Revecy venire du Printans,” needed to have no qualms about amusing himself with writing “Tu ne l'enten pas.” The Gallic spirit is unrestrained here, but far from encouraging Claude Le Jeune to be easygoing and careless, the vivacity of the subject impels him to sharpen his tools still more and to multiply his technical discoveries. Everything had to be suggested, everythingimplied, dared but not abused.The licentious import of “Tu ne l'enten pas, c'est latin” is underlined by the “la, la, la,” full of double-entendres, which leave the meaning in suspense. So much granted, the tale is completely free to venture even beyond the limits of decency, for “You don't understand, it's Latin.” Behold, our author launched headlong into his spicy story! He plays with unbelievable skill on his “Tu ne I'enten pas,” which takes on every possible shade of meaning. Examine it closely and you will see how skillfully Claude Le Jeune has handled all these details: imitations, canons, inexhaustible rhythmical combinations that, by the way, make performing this work a very perilous venture. You don't understand, it’s Latin. A farmer’s daughter got up one morning, took three measures of barley, and went straight to the mill. "My friend," said she, "will my grain be well ground?" “Yes, my beauty,” said he, “just wait till tomorrow and see.” "My trouble’s all for nothing: you're only a wanton wastrel." You don't understand, it's Latin! 13. Au joly boys (Claudin de Sermisy) "31 Chansons musicales" (Attaignant, 1529) How well ordered is everything in this mournful little piece, the expressiveness of which is, in the end, its most striking feature. Again and again it must be repeated: it is on the choice and organization of means that the final effect invariably depends. To rely only on emotion generally results in disorder. Here, on the contrary, everything bears and invites scrutiny. Under repeated chords in dactylic rhythm, the bass exposes the melodic pattern which will be expanded in the tenor at the words “En ung jardin” and heard in canon later on. Notice the parallel movements at “en l’ombre d’ung soucy,” the eloquence of the repeated high note at “En ung jardin,” and the symmetrical descent of the four voices. All the ornaments have disappeared: nothing remains but the unadorned dactylic rhythm (cf. “Death and the Maiden” of Schubert, the “Allegretto” of the Seventh Symphony of Beethoven, the end of Stravinsky’s Orpheus). Admirable music, in truth. In the lowly woods I must go and strive to overcome my sorrow. I have lost my love. Time is heavy on my hands. Solace, you have no more power over me. 14. Francion vint l’autre jour (Pierre Bonnet, 15?-16?) This charming love ditty is a good example of the polyphonic chanson in the process of becoming the court air for one voice. The four voices that accompany the soprano have only a secondary role, rather harmonic. Notice, however, the writing for the tenor in the third verse, the play of minor and major thirds, and the change in sonority when the bass becomes silent. Francion came to see me the other day and spoke of love so delicately that never shall care for anyone but him. “Kiss me, my sweet,” said he. “Why deny me what so freely you give to others?” “No, no,” said I angrily. “If I did, you would soon tire of me.” 15. Le Chant des Oyseaux (Clement Jannequin) “Chansons” (1529) “Awake, slumbering hearts. The God of Love summons you,” sing the voices one after another. The music of this poetical, ravishing refrain will be heard 5 times, separated by 4 couplets. The first one starts with: “On this first day of May, birds do wonderful things. Hark to their song,” and the bird concert begins. Light, onomatopoeic sounds break forth on all sides. They imitate and answer each other, some chirping, others skipping about, still others moving more slowly, and again comes the refrain: "You will all be filled with joy, for the season is a good one." "You will hear soft music from the throat of King Thrush," continues the second couplet, and the concert begins anew. "Ti, ti, ti, piti, chouty, thouy," warble the birds in a little dialogue bouncing back and forth, introducing an increase in rhythmical liveliness and an astonishing variety of timbres. What flashing, amusing, evocative invention! New motives appear endlessly, taken up by voice after voice in an unbelievable accumulation, interrupted by the refrain: "To laugh and enjoy life is my motto. Let everyone join in." "Nightingale of the lovely wood sings sweetly to banish your care," goes the next couplet, and our little singing friends trill and twitter: "Frian, frian, frian, frian. Tar, tar, tar. Velecy, velecy, tu, tu, rrr." Their songs grow brighter and brighter, more and more involved, endlessly varied. "Flyaway, regrets, tears, and cares, for the season demands it," runs the refrain, but the couplet shouts roughly, "Away with you, Master Cuckoo, begone, for you are nothing but a traitor." "Cuckoo, cuckoo, cuckoo," they repeat and repeat, slowly, quickly, high up, low down, until they burst out with: "By treachery in others’ nests you lay your eggs." All the birds have now brought the concert to its climax— blackbird, cuckoo, starling, nightingale, chaffinch, golden oriole—and once more they warble sweetly, "Awake, slumbering hearts. The God of Love summons you." And so ends this thrilling piece, one of the best of all chansons descriptives.
Great composers of classical music