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"Je m'abandonne à vous - Airs sur des poésies de la Comtesse de la Suze"

Marc Mauillon, baritonea; Myriam Rignol, viola da gambab; Angélique Mauillon, harpc
Céline Scheen, sopranod; Antonin Rondpierre, tenore; Alice Piérot, violinf

rec: May & June 2020, Entraigues-su-la-Sorgue (F), La Courroie
Harmonia mundi - HMM 902674.75 (2 CDs) (© 2021) (1.50'05"
Liner-notes: E/F; lyrics - translations: E
Cover, track-list & booklet

Honoré D'AMBRUIS (1st half 17th C) or Robert CAMBERT (c1627-1677): Le doux silence de nos Boisabc [10]; Sous ces ombrages verts, un Amant le plus tendreabc [9]; anon: Sans amour et sans tendresseabc [6]; Vous ne m'attirez point par vos attraits charmantsab [6]; Bertrand DE BACILLY (1621-1690/96): Dans ce bocage, où brille une jeune verdurea [16]; Étoiles d'une nuit plus belle que le jourabc [17]; J'ai voulu suivre une autre Loiabc [20]; Je fuyais sous ces verts ombragesabc [15]; Qu'il est propre à se faire aimerabc [15]; Savourons à longs traits cet excellent Muscatabce [11]; Jean-Benjamin de LA BORDE (1734-1794): Laissez durer la nuit, impatiente Auroreac [24]; François CAMPION (c1685/86-1747/48): J'ai juré mille fois de ne jamais aimerabc [23]; Qu'il est propre à se faire aimerabc [22]; Sébastien LE CAMUS (c1610-1677): Ah! fuyons ce dangereux séjourac [7]; Ah! qui peut tranquillement attendreabc [8]; Bois écartés, demeures sombresab [7]; Délices des Étés, frais et sombres Bocagesabce [12]; Doux Printempsacd [7]; Forêts solitaires et sombresab [9]; Il n'est rien dans la vieabc [14]; Je m'abandonne à vous, amoureux souvenirabc [8]; Je sens au cœur un nouveau troubleac [14]; Laissez durer la nuit, impatiente Auroreabc [12]; Un Berger plus beau que le jourabc [13]; Vous ne m’attirez point par vos attraits charmantsabc [1]; François DUFAUT (c1604-1680?): Suite in a minorc [2]; Michel LAMBERT (1610-1696): J'ai juré mille fois de ne jamais aimerac [4]; J'aime, je suis aiméac [5]; Laisse-moi soupirer, importune raisonabc [21]; Sieur DE MACHY (?-1692): Gavotteb [18]; Préludeb [18]; Marin MARAIS (1656-1728): Prélude en solbc [19]; Henry DU MONT (1610-1684): Laisse-moi soupirer, importune raisonabcdef [3]; Monsieur ROYER (?-?): Étoiles d'une nuit plus belle que le jourbcd [22]; Monsieur DE SAINTE-COLOMBE (c1640-c1701): Chaconne en réb; Jean-Baptiste WECKERLIN (1821-1910): Sans amour et sans tendresse (Conseil d’aimer)ac [25]

Sources: [1] Airs de Boesset, Lambert, Lully, Le Camus, ms., c. 1670-1680; [2] Robert Ballard, ed., Tablature de luth de differens auteurs, sur les accords nouveaux, 1638; [3] Henry du Mont, Meslanges à II, III, IV et V parties avec la basse continuë, 1657; Robert Ballard, ed., [4] Livre d'airs de différents autheurs, II, 1659; [5] Livre d'airs de différents autheurs, V, 1662; [6] Livre d'airs de différents autheurs, VIII, 1665; [7] Livre d'airs de différents autheurs, X, 1667; [8] Livre d'airs de différents autheurs, XI, 1668; [9] Livre d'airs de différents autheurs, XII, 1669; [10] Livre d’airs de différents autheurs, XIII, 1670; [11] Bertrand de Bacilly, Meslanges d'airs à deux parties, d'airs à boire et autres chansons, 1671; Robert Ballard, ed., [12] Livre d'airs de différents autheurs, XIV, 1671; [13] Livre d'airs de différents autheurs, XV, 1672; [14] Livre d'airs de différents autheurs, XVI, 1673; [15] Bertrand de Bacilly, IIe Livre des meslanges de chansons, airs sérieux et à boire à deux et trois parties, 1674; [16] Robert Ballard, ed., Livre d'airs de différents autheurs, XXI, 1678; [17] Livre d'airs de différents autheurs, XXVI, 1683; [18] Sieur de Machy, Pièces de Violle, 1685; [19] Marin Marais, Pièces à une et à deux violes, 1686; [20] Bertrand de Bacilly, Les Airs spirituels de Mr. de Bacilly, Seconde partie, 1688; [21] Michel Lambert, Airs à une, II, III, et IV parties, 1689; [22] Christophe Ballard, ed., Recueil d'airs sérieux et à boire, 1702; [23] François Campion, Avantures pastorales meslées de vers mis en musique, 1719; [24] Jean-Benjamin de La Borde, Choix de chansons mises en musique, 1773 (vol. II, t. III); [25] Jean-Baptiste Weckerlin, Les Poètes français mis en musique par J.-B. Weckerlin, 1re série, 1868

In recent years a remarkable number of discs have been released with French secular repertoire of the 17th century. The dominant genre was the air, which could take different forms and be of different content. The air de cour was the main genre of secular vocal music of the first half of the 17th century, and was - as its name indicates - connected with the court (and with aristocratic circles close to it). In the course of time a popularization of the genre took place, and this resulted in several genres, such as the air sérieux, the air à boire and the air de ballet. Many airs were scored for solo voice and an accompaniment of lute, later replaced by a basso continuo, but several composers also wrote airs for two, three or four voices. The texts are often anonymous, but some of the poets of the time who are still known today, are also represented, such as Pierre Perrin, a poet and librettist, François Le Métel de Boisrobert, a poet and playwright, and the writer and dramatist Jean Desmarets, Sieur de Saint-Sorlin. The production under review here entirely focuses on one poet, whose poems were set by several of the main composers of airs: the Comtesse de la Suze, as she called herself.

She was born as Henriette De Coligny into a Protestant family; her great-grandfather was Gaspard de Coligny (1519-1572), nobleman and admiral of France, and also the leader of the Huguenots in the French wars of religion. She was married twice: first, in 1643, to the Scottish nobleman Thomas Hamilton, 3rd Earl of Haddington, who died only two years later, and then, in 1647, to Gaspard de Champagne, comte de la Suze. This was an unhappy marriage, and was annulled in 1653. However, when she published her poems in 1661, she used the name of her former husband, and called herself Comtesse de la Suze. In 1653 she had converted to Catholicism. She was a friend of Christina of Sweden, who abdicated as Queen after converting to Catholicism. In 1653 an Ode dedicated to Christina was included in an anthology.

The collection of 1661 included 21 poems by Henriette, and the publisher added poems by Roger de Rabutin, comte de Bussy. Other poems were included in anthologies, which were published in the 1660s and 1670s. Even in the 18th century her poems were known. As towards the end of the 18th century her role was not considered appropriate for a woman, her poetry was increasingly neglected, and it was only in the mid-20th century that her place in French literature was reassessed.

The collection of settings of her poems which Marc Mauillon has brought together on this set of discs, attests to her reputation as a poet. Among the composers we find some of the main representatives of the genre of the air sérieux, such as Michel Lambert, Sébastien Le Camus and Bertrand de Bacilly. [biogr] François Campion belongs among a later generation. The second disc ends with two late settings: Jean-Benjamin de La Borde's Laissez durer la nuit, impatiente Aurore is taken from a collection of 1773, whereas Jean-Baptiste Weckerlin's setting of Sans amour et sans tendresse, published in 1868, brings us to the time of Gabriel Fauré, to whose mélodies Mauillon devoted an earlier recording, also released by Harmonia mundi.

It is notable that some poems were set by different composers. They sometimes changed words or groups of words; the booklet includes references to those variants. Unfortunately, the booklet is a bit sloppy. The poems are only printed once, which means that one sometimes has to go back to a previous track. The names of the composers are sometimes omitted in the libretto, and one has to look at the track-list to find out, who the composer is. In the case of Étoiles d'une nuit plus belle que le jour, which appears twice on disc 2, the libretto mentions twice the same name as the composer: Bertrand de Bacilly. The information about the variants suggests that he is the composer of the setting in track 2, whereas the one in track 16 would be by a certain Monsieur Royer. However, it is the other way round, and the track-list has it right. In some cases only one stanza is sung, but it is not indicated whether this is the choice of Mauillon or whether it was rather the composer who omitted the rest. It is just a shame that this part of the production has not been treated with a little more care.

That does in no way compromise my appreciation of this release. The subject matter is highly interesting, as it sheds light on the work of a poet of high repute, who deserves to be better known. And given that we don't know the identity of many texts of airs, this recording is a substantial addition to the knowledge of the genre and its literary background. I indicated above that the composers are some of the main representatives of the genre, but some of them are a little overshadowed by the likes of Moulinié, Boesset and Guédron in many recordings. That goes in particular for De Bacilly and Le Camus; this recording shows that this relative neglect is unjustified. I can't imagine a better advocate of these airs than Marc Mauillon, who has a remarkable voice. He is a basse-taille or baritone, but his tessitura is rather wide, and he can easily sing in the tenor range as well. His voice is relatively light and very flexible. His diction is outstanding, as is his treatment of the ornamentation, either written-out or added by himself. A further asset is his use of historical pronunciation. In some songs he is joined by Céline Scheen and Antonin Rondepierre, who are perfect matches. The instrumental accompaniment by Angélique Mauillon and Myriam Rignol is excellent and most helpful in making this recording a convincing case for these beautiful airs. The latter also delivers some fine solos in between the songs.

As I said, quite some recordings of French airs have been released recently, and they are mostly very good, but this production is something special, because of the focus on one poet, and the way the settings of her poems are performed here.

Johan van Veen (© 2022)

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