musica Dei donum

CD reviews

Music for transverse flute and for flute consort from the 16th and 17th centuries

[I] "Madame d'amours - Music for Renaissance Flute Consort"
The Attaignant Consort
Dir: Kate Clark
rec: May 2007, Basse-Bodeux, Eglise de Notre-Dame de l'Assomption
Ramée - RAM 0706 (© 2007) (79'59")
Liner-notes: E/F/D; lyrics - no translations
Cover & track-list

anon: Das Jägerhorn; Madame d'amours; My Lady Careys Dompe; Ricercada; The Duke of Sommersettes Dompe; Giovanni BASSANO (1560-1617): Frais et Gaillard (Jacobus Clemens non Papa); John DOWLAND (1563-1626): Fine knacks for ladies; Praise blindnesse eies; Jacob VAN EYCK (c1589-1657): Pavan Lachrimae (John Dowland); Robert FAYRFAX (1464-1521): Farewell my joy; Alfonso FERRABOSCO (1543-1588): Fantasia; Georg FORSTER (1510-1588): Ich habs gewagt; Nicolas GOMBERT (1495-1560): Amours, amours; HENRY VIII (1491-1547): Pastyme with good companye; Paul HOFHAIMER (1459-1537): Ach Lieb mit Leid; Heinrich ISAAC (c1440-1517): Güretzsch - Si dormiero; La my; Clément JANEQUIN (1485-1558): Le rossignol: En escoutant; JOSQUIN DESPREZ (1440-1521): In pace - Que vous madame; Mille regretz; Hans JUDENKÜNIG (c1460-1526): Ein seer guter Organistischer Preambel; Orlandus LASSUS (1530-1594): Beatus vir; Luys DE NARVÁEZ (?-1549): La Canción del Emperador (Mille regretz); Jacob OBRECHT (1456-1505): Qui cum Patre et Filio; Diego ORTIZ (1510-1570): Doulce mémoire (Pierre Sandrin); Jean-Paul PALADIN (?-1565): Le content est riche; Ricardo ROGNONI (c1550-1620): Anchor che col partire (Cipriano de Rore); Arnolt SCHLICK (c1460-after 1521): Mein M. ich hab; Ludwig SENFL (1486-1542): Carmen; Claudin DE SERMISY (1490-1562): Au joly bois; Au pres de vous; Tant que vivray; Tomás Luis DE VICTORIA (1548-1611): Tenebrae factae sunt

Frédérique Chauvet, Kate Clark, Marcello Gatti, Marion Moonen, transverse flute; with: Mathieu Langlois, transverse flute; Marta Graziolino, harp; Nigel North, lute

[II] "Au Joly Bois - Music for Renaissance and early Baroque flute and lute"
Kate Clark, transverse flute; Freek Borstlap, viola da gambaa; Nigel North, lute
rec: July 2010, Basse-Bodeux, Eglise de Notre-Dame de l'Assomption
Ramée - RAM 1201 (© 2012) (64'34")
Liner-notes: E/D/F
Cover & track-list

Giovanni BASSANO (1558-1617): Ricercata III; Giulio CACCINI (1551-1618): Sfogava con le stelle; Joachim Thibault DE COURVILLE (c1535-1581): Si se languis d'un martire incogneu; Girolamo FRESCOBALDI (1583-1643): Canzona IV per soprano e basso; Pierre GUÉDRON (c1563-c1621): Si jamais mon ame blessée; Jacques-Martin HOTTETERRE le Romain (1674-1763): L'autre jour ma Cloris; Rochers, je ne veux point; Suite for treble instrument and bc in D, op. 2,1 (exc)a; Vous qui faites votre modelle; Constantijn HUYGENS (1596-1687): Que ferons-nous; Francesco DA MILANO (1497-1543): 3 Fantasias; Ricercare; Diego ORTIZ (1510-1570): O felichi occhi miei (Jacques Arcadelt); Francesco ROGNONI (?-c1626): Pulchra es amica mea (Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina); Claudin DE SERMISY (1490-1562): Au joly bois; Tant que vivray; Tilman SUSATO (1510-1570): Les miens aussi; Robert DE VISÉE (1655-1732): Entrée des Espagnols de Mr. de Lully; Logistille de Mr. de Lully; Prélude; Philip VAN WILDER (c1500-1554): Dump

[III] "Le Parler et le Silence - Music for flute consort and lute from the late 16th to the early 18th centuries"
The Attaignant Consort
Dir: Kate Clark
rec: May 2011, Basse-Bodeux, Eglise de Notre-Dame de l'Assomption
Ramée - RAM 1206 (© 2013) (68'33")
Liner-notes: E/D/F
Cover & track-list

anon (The Knight of the Lute): Fantasie; Robert BALLARD (1575-c1650): Première entrée; Giovanni BASSANO (c1558-1617): Fantasia; Pulchea es amica mea (Giovanni Pierlugi da Palestrina); Antoine BOËSSET (1587-1643): Si c'est un crime que l'aymer; Joseph Bodin DE BOISMORTIER (1689-1755): Sonata in g minor, op. 34,1; John DOWLAND (1563-1626): Galliard (Sleep wayward thoughts) (arr Nigel North); Girolamo FRESCOBALDI (1583-1643): Fantasia II; Orlando GIBBONS (1583-1625): Fantasia; Gioseffo GUAMI (1542-1611): Canzon XVII; Pierre GUÉDRON (c1563-c1621): Esprits qui soupirez; O destin par trop rigoureux; Si le parler et le silence; Jacques-Martin HOTTETERRE le Romain (1674-1763): Air anglois à 3 flutes; Fanfare à 3 flutes; L'amant le plus fidelle, brunette à 3; Si c'est un crime que l'aymer (Antoine Boësset); Michel LAMBERT (1610-1696): L'amour, le seul amour (ritournelle); Ma bergère (ritournelle); Thomas LUPO (1571-1627): Fantasia; Luzzasco LUZZASCHI (c1545-1607): Canzon X; Thomas MORLEY (1557-1602): Fantasia La Tortorella; Francis PILKINGTON (1565-1638): My choice is made; Jan Pieterszoon SWEELINCK (1562-1621): L'enfant Amour; Pseaume 9; Yeux qui guidez mon ame; Charles TESSIER (1550-c1610): Si le penser de mon ame; Robert DE VISÉE (1655-1732): Chaconne; Chaconne des Harlequins de Mr Lully; Prélude

Frédérique Chauvet, Kate Clark, Marcello Gatti, Mathieu Langlois, transverse flute; Nigel North, lute

Over a period of six years Ramée has released three discs with the Attaignant Consort, directed by Kate Clark, and with the latter as a soloist, in repertoire for transverse flute and for a consort of transverse flutes respectively. Together they offer a compelling survey of the technical development of the instrument and the repertoire which was played by the flute or by an ensemble of flutes from the 16th to the early 18th centuries. Obviously these aspects are closely connected: the repertoire developed in such a way that the instruments were adapted to its requirements. That was also the time composers started to indicate for which instruments their compositions were written. These were often more idiomatic than the music of previous eras. It should be noted that even when composers did specify the scoring it was often possible to turn to another instrument, as long as the parts were within its grasp. If a composer included, for instance, double stopping in a sonata for violin, a performance of the music as it was written was impossible on a wind instrument, unless the interpreter adapted it to the possibilities of his own instrument. This frequently happened as printed editions show. It is a further indication of the role of the interpreter: music was not expected to be played exactly as it was written down.

These discs shed light on several features of the music of the late renaissance and the early baroque. In the renaissance melody instruments were usually built in consorts: the instruments ranged from descant to bass, reflecting the various pitches of the human voice. This can be explained from the fact that before the late 16th century the amount of music specifically written for instruments was rather small, and (consorts of) instruments mostly played vocal music. Towards the end of the 16th century a specific genre came into existence: divisions in which a part of a polyphonic piece was embellished. It is interesting to note that the second and third disc both include pieces of the same kind, but played in different scorings. In 'Au Joly Bois' Kate Clark plays treble parts from polyphonic pieces with divisions, with Nigel North realising the remaining parts one the lute. In 'Le Parler et le Silence' the Attaignant Consort plays Palestrina's motet Pulchra es amica mea as arranged by Giovanni Bassano. Kate Clark plays again the embellished upper part, but here the remaining parts are performed on transverse flutes in lower pitches.

The 16th century also saw the emergence of music specifically written for a consort of instruments. Such consorts could comprise various instruments, such as viols or recorders - today the most common form for performances of consort music - or an ensemble of instruments from various families, the so-called broken consort. A consort of transverse flutes is rather rare these days - which makes the recordings of the Attaignant Consort all the more interesting - but was quite common in the renaissance. The existence of such consorts is documented for England, France and Germany in the first half of the 16th century.

An interesting aspect of performance practice is the connection between text and music in instrumental performances. The first disc ('Madame d'amours') includes the lyrics of the vocal pieces on the programme and that is not without a reason. Kate Clark writes: "There is evidence to suggest that professional musicians aimed to conjure up in their playing not only the sentiments of the text, but the inflections of the voice and even the pronunciation of the words as it would be present in a vocal performance; this was the ideal for which they strove". She then quotes several authors who gave instructions as how to do justice to the words in a performance with instruments like the flute. It needs to be added that most consort music was aimed at the market of skilled amateurs. Ms Clark mentions the development of printing as one of the factors which greatly stimulated the dissemination of consort music across the continent.

The first disc includes mostly music from the 16th century; the other two discs mark the transition from the renaissance to the baroque period. From the early decades of the 17th century on composers started to write music specifically for instruments, and often not - at least not explicitly - based on vocal models. It allowed them to explore the technical features of the instruments, and this resulted in many pieces being more idiomatic than before. However, as the programme on these discs show, instrumentalists still often played vocal music. The Attaignant Consort and Kate Clark perform, for instance, French airs de cour, originally scored for either an ensemble of voices or for solo voice and lute. The pieces by Jacques-Martin Hotteterre - flute versions of vocal pieces by the likes of Bacilly and Lambert - bear witness to the fact that this was common practice at the time. Both discs end with pieces for flute solo or for an ensemble of flutes which stylistically belong to the high baroque era. These require different instruments, which show greater differentiation in colour between the various registers and greater possibilities in dynamic shading, reflecting the baroque aesthetics which included contrasts between light and shadow, good and bad notes and the expression of affetti.

These three discs are extremely important as they shed light on a part of the history of the transverse flute which is not that well known. The genres which are included in the programmes of these discs are not unknown. However, it is most instructive to bring them together and present them in their historical context. Moreover, the consort of transverse flutes is still a little-known phenomenon, and Kate Clark and her colleagues convincingly demonstrate the attractiveness of this kind of ensemble. The performances are outstanding and imaginative. The artists are not afraid to bring in their own improvisatory skills, as for instance Kate Clark sometimes plays her own divisions or extends written-down divisions with some of her own.

This is music making at its very best and I strongly recommend these discs to anyone who likes to broaden his musical horizon.

Johan van Veen (© 2014)

Relevant links:

Kate Clark
Attaignant Consort

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