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Cornelis SCHUYT (1557 - 1616): "Madrigali, Padovane & Gagliarde"

Camerata Trajectina

rec: Feb 2011, Cothen, Protestantse Kerk
Globe - GLO 6068 ( 2011) (60'18")
Liner-notes: E/N; lyrics - translations: E
Cover & track-list

Bewaert Heer Hollandt [1]; Candide perle e care [1]; D'adamantine tempre [1]; Domine fiant anima mea; Filli, come sei bella [1]; Fortuna Guida [3]; La Barca [3]; Lieta pi dell'usato [1]; O Leyda gratiosa [1]; Padovana & Gagliarda 2 (del secondo modo) [3]; Padovana & Gagliarda 3 (del terzo modo) [3]; Padovana & Gagliarda 6 (del sesto modo) [3]; Padovana & Gagliarda 11 (dell'undecimo modo) [3]; Quest'amorosa mano [1]; S come fra le stelle [1]; Sposo gentil [1]; Uyt jonsten es begrepen 't spel [2]; Voci sonore e liete [1]; Voi bramate, ben mio [1]

Source: [1] Il primo libro de madrigali, 1600; [2] Hollandsche madrigalen, 1603; [3] 12 padovane et altretante gagliarde con 2 canzone alla francese, 1611

Hieke Meppelink, Mariette Kaasschieter, soprano, Sytse Buwalda , alto, Nico van der Meel, Marc Omvlee, tenor, Marcel Moester, bass, Marjan Banis, Bert Honig, Susanne Borsch, Thera de Clerck, Alide Verheij, recorders, Saskia Coolen, recorder, viola da gamba, Rainer Zipperling, Ghislaine Wauters, Erik Beijer, Ivanka Neeleman, Freek Borstlap, viola da gamba

The ensemble Camerata Trajectina was founded in 1974, with the aim of performing and recording music written in the Netherlands between the Middle Ages and the 17th century. For a long time it was virtually the only ensemble which performed Dutch music. The last two decades some ensembles have explored the repertoire of the 18th century like Musica ad Rhenum and the New Dutch Academy. Recently the Gesualdo Consort Amsterdam, directed by Harry van der Kamp, finished its complete recording of the vocal music of the most famous composer in Dutch history, Jan Pieterszoon Sweelinck.

Camerata Trajectina is still unique in that since its foundation it has paid much attention to various figures from Dutch musical life, in particular from the time of the Reformation and the 80 Years' War until the end of the 'Golden Age', somewhere in the second half of the 17th century. Cornelis Schuyt was one of the better-known from this period. He was born and spent most part of his life in Leiden. He was the son of an organist, and in 1593 he himself was appointed in the same position. Since then they played the organs in the town's main churches in turn. Before that he had made a journey to Italy, probably accompanied by his father. Back home he published his first book of madrigals, all on Italian texts, in 1600. It was dedicated to the town authorities which showed great respect for him and paid him well. The first madrigal in the book - also the first on this disc - is devoted to his hometown: O Leyda gratiosa. In it he sings its praises: "O illustrious Leiden, precious pearl, eminent in letters, valorous in arms".

"Valorous in arms" - this refers to the defence of the town against the attack of the Spanish armies. "Eminent in letters" refers to the University which was founded in 1575 by William of Orange, leader of the revolt against Spain. The University was his gift to the town by way of thanks for its role in the resistance against the Spaniards. The University also created the intellectual and cultural climate in which Schuyt's Italian madrigals were appreciated. At the same time there was a movement which aimed at promoting the Dutch language. Some famous poets wrote in Dutch and Schuyt set some of their poems to music. But it seems his efforts in this department were rather lacklustre. It is not quite possible to value his oeuvre completely, though, as a part of it has been lost. Just one collection of madrigals on Dutch texts is known, but unfortunately only three partbooks have survived. On this disc one such madrigal is performed: Uyt jonsten es begrepen 't spel; the missing parts were reconstructed by Nico van der Meel, one of the singers of the ensemble. It is an interesting piece in that it was written at the occasion of the festival of the various chambers of rhetorics (rederijkerskamers), associations of mostly amateur poets which existed in several towns and villages in the Netherlands. The names of several chambers are incorporated in the text of the madrigal.

Although Schuyt was organist by profession, no organ works from his pen have come down to us. His only non-vocal music consists of pieces for instrumental ensemble, which can be played either on recorders or viols, as is the case on this disc. Most of them reflect the then popular sequence of a pavan (a slow striding dance) and a galliard (a fast springing dance). Fortuna Guida and La Barca are canzone alla francese.

Two vocal items need to be specially mentioned. Bewaert Heer Hollandt is a four-part puzzle canon with the text "Lord, protect Holland and bless Leiden". It refers to the siege by the Spanish army in 1574. It was included in Schuyt's first madrigal book, but his explanation in Latin was probably not fully understood. In his collection of Dutch madrigals he explained in Dutch how it was to be performed. The disc ends with a motet, Domine fiant anima mea which refers to the character of St Cecilia. It is a so-called picture motet: it was printed on an engraving by Zacharias Dolendo. The six voices of the motet are divided among three choir books held by angels while Cecilia plays the organ. The text says: "Lord, let my soul and body be pure, so that I am not put to shame". It is suggested that this picture motet is an indication of Schuyt's Catholic faith, despite Leiden being converted to the Reformation.

It is not the first time that music by Schuyt has been recorded; in particular the madrigal O Leyda gratiosa and some of the pavans and galliards have been recorded before. But it is the first disc which is entirely devoted to his oeuvre. Considering its quality one would hope to hear more in future recordings. It would be nice, for instance, to hear the 12-part madrigal from his second book. But this disc is a good start. The performances are good: the singers have nice voices which suit this repertoire well. The lower voices could have been a little stronger, though, and in general I feel the interpretation is too restrained. More dynamic shading had not been amiss. Debatable is the mixture of recorders and viols in the Padovana & Gagliarda 11.

Even so, this disc can be recommended unequivocally. It is a nice survey of the oeuvre of one of the main composers from the Dutch 'Golden Age'. It also shows the dissemination of the Italian madrigal style in Europe around 1600.

Johan van Veen ( 2012)

Relevant links:

Camerata Trajectina

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