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"Salve Susato - Music Composed or Printed by Tielman Susato"

Utopia Ensemble

rec: July 6 - 8, 2022, Antwerp, St Pauluskerk
Ramée - RAM 2205 (© 2023) (74'59")
Liner-notes: E/D/F; lyrics - translations: E
Cover, track-list & booklet

Jacobus CLEMENS NON PAPA (c1510/15-c1555/56): Een venus schoon [11]; Si par trop boire [10]; Thomas CRECQUILLON (c1505-c1557): Je suis aymé [4]; Mort m'a privé [4]; Nicolas GOMBERT (c1495-c1560): Triste départ [3]; JOSQUIN DESPREZ (c1445/50-1521): Mille regretz [8]; Nymphes des bois (Déploration sur la mort de Jean Ockeghem) [5]; Orlandus LASSUS (1532-1594): Madonna mia, pietà [1]; Perch'io veggio [1]; Jean LECOCQ (fl 1514): Le bergier et la bergiere [2]; Pierre DE MANCHICOURT (c1510-1564): Ave stella matutina [13]; Tielman SUSATO c1510/15-after 1570): Hoboecken dansa [12]; Les miens aussi (Résponce à Mille regretz de Josquin) [8]; Mille regretz fera mon povre cueur [2]; Missa In illo tempore (Sanctus; Agnus Dei) [6]; Mon amya [12]; Nil homini firmum est [9]; O wrede fortune [11]; Pere eternel [8]; Rondea [12]; Salve quae roseo [7]; Si de present peine j'endurea [14]; Wo bistua [12]

Sources: Tielman Susato, ed., [1] Le Quatoirsiesme Livre a quatre parties contenant Dix Huyct Chansons Italiennes, Six chansons francoises, et Six Motetz faictz (a la Nouuelle composition d’aucuns d’Italie) par Rolando di Lassus, 1540; [2] Vingt et six chansons musicales et nouvelles a cincq parties, 1543; [3] Le cincquiesme livre contenant trente & deux chansons a cincq et a six parties, 1544; [4] Le sixiesme livre contenant trente et une chansons nouvelles a cincq et a six parties, 1545; [5] Le septiesme livre contenant vingt & quatre chansons a cincq et a six parties, 1545; [6] Liber primus missarum quinque vocum a diversis musicis compositarum, quarum nomina catalogus indicabit, 1546; [7] Liber Primus sacrarum cantionum quinque vocum, 1546; [8] L'Unziesme livre contenant vingt & neuf chansons amoureuses a quatre parties, 1549; [9] Montanus & Neuber, ed., Diphona amoena et fl orida Selectore Erasmo Rotenbuchero, Boiaro, 1549; Tielman Susato, ed., [10] Le Douziesme livre contenant trente Chansons amoureuses a cincq parties, 1550; [11] Het tvueetste musick boexken mit vier partyen, 1551; [12] Het derde musyck boexken, 1551; [13] Liber quintus ecclesiasticarum cantionum quinque vocum vulgo moteta vocant, etc., 1553; [14] Pierre Phalèse, ed., Luculentum Th eatrum Musicum, 1568

Michaela Riener, mezzo-soprano; Bart Uvyn, alto; Adriaan De Koster, tenor; Lieven Termont, baritone; Guillaume Olry, bass; with Jan Van Outryve, lute (soloa)

Everyone who likes renaissance music knows Tielman Susato. He was one of the most important music printers of his time, and anthologies often include dances from one of the collections that he published. Not every recording mentions the sources from which pieces are taken, but some vocal music also may come from one of his editions with chansons or motets.

Susato was born in Soest, near Cologne in Germany, and moved to Antwerp in the 1520s; 1529 is the first year his presence can be documented. At the time the town was prosperous; it was one of the main economic centres of the Netherlands. It was open to other cultures: "It was second only to Bruges as a trading hub and an anchorage for daredevils and fortune-seekers, for people who did not fit in elsewhere, who hoped for a cosmopolitan openness in the hodgepodge of nationalities, and for visionaries and revolutionaries who sought brackish ground in which new ideas might take root", Sofie Taes states in her liner-notes.

This was the ideal place for Susato to practice innovative printing techniques. He was not the first music printer: in the first decade of the 16th century the first book with polyphonic pieces came from the press in Antwerp. In the next decades several collections were published, with chansons on French texts, psalms in Dutch (Souterliedekens) and motets. Susato first entered into a partnership with the printer Willem Van Vissenaecken and with Hendrik ter Bruggen. In 1544 he was the only owner of the printing business. In 1543 he founded a printing house, and four years later moved to a new property, where he not only printed music, but also sold musical instruments.

In the course of his career as a music printer, Susato produced 22 books of chansons, three of masses and 19 of motets. In addition he published eleven volumes under the title of Musyck Boexken (Little music book): one included dances, two songs on Dutch texts and eight Souterliedekens. The books with polyphonic Dutch songs were the first ever to be published, and constitute the largest collections of Dutch songs of this period. "The quality of his printings too was exceptional. Susato's products were intended for professional musicians and discerning citizens who appreciated a perfectly polished finish and took the accompanying price tag for granted."

In 1561 Tielman's son Jacob took over his father's business, but published only one collection of music, due to his early death in 1564. The printing presses and equipment then came into the hands of Christophe Plantin (Christoffel Plantijn), who was to be one of the main music printers of the later 16th century. Tielman had moved to the northern Netherlands, very likely because of his Calvinist convictions, for which there was more freedom in the northern part of the Netherlands. He became involved in local politics and later went to Sweden on a diplomatic mission. He stayed there and died, but it is not known where and when.

Although Susato's collections of music are rich sources for today's performers of renaissance music, for most music lovers he is little more than a name. Liner-notes seldom pay attention to the identity of the man and his activities. That makes this disc a very valuable addition to the discography, as here he is put into the centre. As mentioned above, he is best-known for the dances he published, and some of them are included here in performances on the lute. However, the main part is devoted to vocal music. The most interesting aspect is that Susato is presented here as a composer in his own right. He may have arranged some of the dances, which were probably anonymous, but he was also a composer of both secular and sacred music. From 1531 to 1549 he was one of the town's musicians and played several wind instruments, among them recorder and sackbut.

The programme opens and closes with pieces from his pen. Mille regretz fera mon povre cueur is one of his chansons; in the middle of the programme we get another one, which is direct response to Josquin's famous chanson Mille regretz (whose text is different from that of Susato). The last piece is a secular motet, Salve quae roseo, an ode to Antwerp: "Hail, you who are crowned with roses and surpass all other cities easily. Hail Antwerp, hail love, hail pleasure and delight, splendour and crown of your flourishing land, O blessed one, all hail! Hail, Antwerp, Europe's jewel, flower and delight." Two sections from his Missa In illo tempore attest to his skills in the writing of imitative polyphony. The Agnus Dei has an alternatim structure: the second Agnus Dei is sung in plainchant. Père éternel is a sacred piece in French, a grace to be said after the meal.

As the track-list shows, the composers whose music he published were among the best of the Franco-Flemish school: Josquin Desprez, Nicolas Gombert, Thomas Crecquillon, Pierre de Manchicourt, Jacobus Clemens non Papa and Orlandus Lassus. The latter is represented by two madrigals in Italian - a genre that plays a minor role in Susato's publications. Clemens non Papa is responsible for one of the Dutch songs in the programme; the other is from the pen of Susato himself. The only unknown composer is Jean Lecocq, whose identity has given much food for speculation. He may be identical with a composer who is elsewhere called Joannes Gallus.

This disc is a worthy tribute to a man who has done the music world a great service by providing a large amount of music, a substantial part of it consisting of pieces that are not available from other sources. He is often not more than a footnote in liner-notes to concerts and recordings, but his contributions to music history deserve to be better known. It is nice that the Utopia Ensemble decided to include some of his own compositions, showing that he has to be taken seriously in this department as well. On top of that, we get outstanding performances by an ensemble that in a few years has developed into a top-class group of singers, which likes to explore lesser-known parts of the renaissance repertoire. I have been impressed by its previous recordings, and this disc is another winner. The blending of the voices and the intonation are impeccable, and the text is treated with care. They mostly prefer an intimate and delicate sound, which fits many pieces perfectly. In some more extraverted items, such as Lecocq's Le bergier et la bergière, they are not afraid to let their hair down. Jan Van Outryve delivers fine contributions on his lute. This disc will give lovers of renaissance music much pleasure, and I am sure that they will regularly return to it.

Johan van Veen (© 2024)

Relevant links:

Utopia Ensemble

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