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Arnold & Hugo DE LANTINS (fl 1415 - 1430): "Secular Works"

Le Miroir de Musique
Dir: Baptiste Romain

rec: April 2014, Beuggen, Schlosskirche
Ricercar - RIC 365 (© 2016) (66'54")
Liner-notes: E/D/F; lyrics - translations: E/D/F
Cover & track-list

Arnold DE LANTINS: Amour servir et honnourer; Ce jour de l'an, belle, je vous supply; Hélas emy! ma dame et ma mestresse; Las, pouray je mon martire celer; Ne me veuillés belle oblier; Puis que je voy, belle, que me n'amés; Puisque je suy cyprianés; Tota pulchra es amica mea; Hugo DE LANTINS: Celsa sublimatur victoria/Sabine, presul dignissime; Chanter ne scay ce poyse moy; Grant ennuy m'est, tres douce simple et coye; Hélas amour, que ce qu'endure; Io sum tuo servo; Je suy exent entre aman pour amour; Mirar non posso ni conzerner; Per amor de costey; Plaindre m'estuet de ma damme jolye; Un seul confort pour mon cuer resjoïr

Sabine Lutzenberger, Clara Coutouly, soprano; Bernd Oliver Fröhlich, Achim Schulz, tenor; Nathaniel Wood, slide trumpet; Tobie Miller, recorder, hurdy-gurdy; Silke Schulze, shawm, pommer; Elisabeth Rumsey, vielle; Baptiste Romain, vielle, bagpipes; Marc Lewon, lute, gittern

The name De Lantins will ring a bell with most lovers of medieval and renaissance music. It is usually connected to two composers, with the Christian names of Hugo and Arnold. However, little is known about them; the biographical information is scarce, and we don't even know for sure how they were related. It is generally assumed that they were brothers - the rear of the present disc refers to them that way - but in his liner-notes David Fallows is more cautious: "Whether Hugo and Arnold were brothers, we shall never know (...)".

To make things even more complicated, New Grove mentions three further composers with the name of De Lantins. The first mentioned is called Berthold, and Fallows suggests that he may have been the father of Hugo and Arnold, assuming they were indeed brothers. The second is known with only a shortening of his Christian name, "Ray.", for Raynaldus. According to Fallows this is not a different composer: "[We] must conclude that Raynaldus is a version of Rinaldo, which is a homonym for Arnold (as suggested by Margaret Bent)". New Grove also mentions Johannes de Lotinis or Lothin but he is not discussed by Fallows and was active in the second half of the 15th century, much later than the Lantins who are the subject of the present disc.

Both can be linked to Guillaume Dufay. "Hugo's song Tra quante regione seems to celebrate the same Malatesta wedding as Dufay's motet Vasilissa ergo gaude; Hugo's motet Celsa sublimatur honours St Nicholas of Bari, like Dufay's motet O gemma lux. (...) [two] manuscripts contain a Gloria by Hugo directly followed by a Credo by Dufay, the two having closely related musical materials as though composed in close collaboration". And then Fallows also refers to a chanson by Dufay which includes the names of both composers: Huchon and Ernoul (Hé, compaignons). It seems likely that both were active in northern Italy as their music is known almost exclusively from northern Italian manuscripts. They were probably among those composers from across Europe who were present at the Council of Constance (1414-1418).

Both have left sacred and secular works. From Arnold we know one complete Mass ordinary (Missa Verbum incarnatum), four mass sections including an Introitus, and three Gloria-Credo pairs, plus three motets. As far as the secular music is concerned we know two ballades and 13 rondeaux; all the secular pieces have a French text. In addition New Grove lists some doubtful pieces. From Hugo's pen we have a Gloria-Credo pair and three further Gloria settings, five motets and one motet fragment. His secular output comprises four pieces on Italian texts and 13 rondeaux on French texts. The fact that most of their secular works have French texts can be explained from the fact that this was the common language in northern Italy at the time.

This disc focuses on the secular part of Hugo and Arnold's output. All the pieces are in three voices as was common at the time. Notable is that the two lower voices are in the same range which explains that in the present recording two tenors participate and no baritone or bass. The secular part of the programme consists only of pieces on French texts - except Per amor de costey - and all have the form of a rondeau, with the exception of Puis que je voy by Arnold. Four of the pieces have come down to us incomplete. "[The] performer has various options: to leave it as a fragment, to perform it as though it were in the full rondeau form, or to add lines from other poems of the time, as happens here with Je suy exent and Hélas emy". The first option is chosen in Un seul confort, the second in Las, pourray je mon martire celer.

Fallows mentions two pieces which are notable: Je suy exent is in the style known as ars subtilior, which belongs to the late 14th century and therefore was well out of fashion in the time of the De Lantins. Plaindre m'estuet has an acrostic of a rather rude content. "Acrostics are not unknown in the song poetry of the fifteenth century, but they normally identify an author or a dedicatee: I know of no other acrostic that shocks in the same way".

In addition to the secular works Le Miroir de Musique included Arnold's motet Tota pulchra es, once performed instrumentally, a second time vocally. It is not discussed in the liner-notes; according to New Grove the second upper voice is a later addition. Some of the secular pieces are also performed on instruments and so is Hugo's Italian ballata Io sum tuo servo. They are partly arranged on the basis of contemporary sources, among them the Buxheim Codex. The way the music is performed here - vocally, instrumentally or in a mixture of voices and instruments - reflects the variety in performance practices at the time.

Le Miroir de Musique is a relatively young ensemble which has quickly developed into one of the best and most interesting ensembles for the music of the renaissance. It always comes up with uncommon programmes and that makes their discs stand out among the crowd. The names of Arnold and Hugo de Lantins now and then turn up in anthologies on discs and in concerts but this disc is probably the first that is entirely devoted to their oeuvre. Because of that it is a meaningful addition to the discography. Add to that the quality of the performers. The singing and playing is outstanding and the interpretation is as close as possible to contemporary sources. No wild guesswork or performances based on wishful thinking, no attempts to make the music more 'accessible'. This ensemble's performances are models of sincerity and integrity. That makes them all the more compelling.

Johan van Veen (© 2016)

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