Amon Ra CD-SAR 63
Information from owned CD. The booklet included with the CD is a model to follow in term of academic information; just before listening to the CD you feel they wish to show that, although they are beginning in the field, they want to deliver a serious product. And as seen above, the content is extremely ambitious covering from the 9th century to mid 16th. And the result is serious, well done and more than promising. This canadian ensemble and the french-canadian ensemble "Anonymus" represent very well Canada in the EM field. It should be also noted that the pronunciation of old french is excellent for an english speaking singer (Jay Lambie). — medieval.org
1. Quen quer que ten en desden [3:15] CSM 153
Alfonso X "el Sabio" of Castile, fl. 1252-1284 — El Escorial, Real Biblioteca de San Lorenzo, MS T.j.I, f. 204v
[1, 2, 3, 4, 5] tenor, choir, lute, vielle, darabukka
2. Ex ejus tumba; V. Catervatim [7:15]
Vespers Responsory for St. Nicholas; French/Scottish, 13th c. — Wolfenbüttel, Herzog August Bibliothek, MS 677, f. 17
[2, 3; 1, 5] tenor, baritone; soprano, soprano
3. Estampie [2:13]
English, late 13th(?) c. — Oxford, Bodleian Library MS Douce 139, f. 5v
[3, 4, 5] lute, guittern, harp
4. Rosa delectabilis ~ [REGALI EX PROGENIE] ~ Regalis exoritur [3:05]
English, 14th c. — Oxford, New College, MS 362, item XXVI, ff. 90v-91
[1, 2, 3] soprano, tenor, baritone
5. Peperit virgo [3:10]
Music: English, 13th c.; text: Richard de LEDREDE, Ireland, d. 1361
Cambridge, King's College, Muniment Roll 2 W.32; Kilkenny, Episcopal Palace, s.n. "Red Book of Ossory", f 71
[1, 5] soprano, harp
6. My heartly service [4:41]
Scottish, early 16th(?) c. — Thomas Wode pan-books: Cantus, Songs and Fancies, Aberdeen, 1662;
London, British Library MS Add. 33933; Edinburgh, University Library MS La. III. 483
[1, 2, 3] soprano, tenor, baritone
7. Alma redemptoris mater [4:47]
John DUNSTABLE, d. 1453; Marian antiphon, Advent and Christmas
Bologna, Liceo Musicale, MS Q15, ff 7v-8
[1, 2, 3] soprano, tenor, baritone
8. Sire cuens, j'ai vielé [3:31]
Colin MUSET, fl. c. 1200 — Paris, Bibliothèque de l'Arsenal, MS 5198, pp. 237-238
[2, 4] tenor, vielle
9. Conditor alme siderum [3:26]
Hymn for Advent Vespers; French, 14th c.
Apt, Trésor de la Basilique Sainte-Anne, MS 16bis, f. 14v
[1, 2, 3; 5] soprano, tenor, baritone; soprano
10. Corps feminin [3:33][3, 4, 5] 3'33"
SOLAGE, fl. c. 1375-1400 — Chantilly, Musée Condé, MS 564, f. 23v
[3, 4, 5] lute, flute, harp
11. Je ne vis oncques la pareille [1, 3, 5] 4'13"
Gilles BINCHOIS, c. 1400-1460 — Paris, Bibliothèque G. Thibault, "Chansonnier Nivelle de la Chaussée", ff. 51v-52
[1, 3, 5] soprano, lute, harp
12. Saltarello [5:00]
Italian, c. 1400 — London, British Library MS Add. 29987, f. 62
[3, 4, 5] lute, vielle, recorder
13. Io son un pellegrin [2:20]
Italian, 14th c. — Florence, Biblioteca Nazionale Centrale, Cod. Panciatichi 26, ff. 47v-48r
[2, 3] tenor, baritone
14. Sus lâgen sie unlange [4:11]
Titurel fragment — Text: Wolfram von ESCHENBACH, c. 1170-1220
Music: Vienna, Osterreichische Nationalbibliothek MS 2675, f . 1v
[3, 5] baritone, harp
15. Ad regnum epulentum [1:55]
Swiss, late 14th c. — Engelberg, Stiftsbibliothek, Codex 314, f. 142
[2, 3] tenor, baritone
16. Gesegnet sey die frucht [2:27]
Oswald von WOLKENSTEIN, c. 1377-1445. — Innsbruck, Wolkenstein Handschrift B, f. 6
[2, 5] tenor, harp
17. Nu bitt wir den heiligen geist [2:25]
German (Silesia), c. 1485 — Kraków, Biblioteka Jagiellónska, s.n., "Glogauer Liederbuch", no. 121
[3, 4] lute, recorder
18. Unsar trohtin hat farsalt[1:36]
Petruslied. German; Suonhart (?), 9th or 10th c. — Munich, Staatsbibliothek, Clm 6260, f. 158v
[1, 2, 3, 5] soprano, soprano, tenor, baritone
19. Ich bins erfreut [2:41]
German (Silesia), c. 1485 — Kraków, Biblioteka Jagiellónska, s.n., "Glogauer Liederbuch", no. 206
[2, 3, 4, 5] tenor, lute, guittern, harp
20. Der notter schwanctz [2:28]
German (Silesia), c. 1485 — Kraków, Biblioteka Jagiellónska, s.n., "Glogauer Liederbuch", no. 25
[3, 4, 5] lute, recorder, recorder
21. O dulcissime amator [6:35]
Hildegard von BINGEN, 1098-1179. Symphonia virginum
Dendermonde, St. -Pieters & Paulsabdij, MS Cod. 9, ff. 165v-166
22. Cormacus scripsit [0:44]
Irish, c. 1150-1200 — London, British Library MS Add. 36929, f. 59
[1, 2, 3] soprano, tenor, baritone
Total duration: 75'30"
Ensemble for Medieval Music
Holly Cluett — soprano (1)
Jay Lambie — tenor (2)
Bryan Martin — baritone, lute (3)
Randall Rosenfeld — vielle, gittern, flute, recorder (4)
Andrea Budgey — harp, recorder, soprano, darabukka (5)
Flute – Barbara Stanley, Clifton, Bedfordshire
Recorders – Peter Noy, Toronto
Vielle – Randall Rosenfeld, Toronto
Harp – R. Rosenfeld
Gothic harp – George Higgs, Faversham, Kent
Gittern – small Egyptian oud, adapted R. Rosenfeld
Lute – Michael Schreiner, Toronto
Darabukka – Morocco, traditional
Editions prepared by members of Sine Nomine © Matchbox Music
Recorded at Valley Recordings, Littleton-on-Severn, July 1995
Produced by Gef Lucena
Recorded and edited by David Wilkins
Cover Illustration: David Harping (Psalter of Westminster Abbey) Late 12th Century,
Ms. Royal, 2A.xxii, fol. 14V reproduced by permission of The British Library
Group photograph: Catherine Martin
Thanks to: Cathy Martin, Jan & Sandy McMillan, Andrew Hughes
℗ & © 1996 Saydisc
The body of music which has come down to us from the Middle Ages is large and varied; to represent this heritage fully would, of course, be a challenge for an entire series of recordings. On this recording, SINE NOMINE have assembled a selection of pieces from six centuries (from the tenth to the fifteenth century) and from eleven "countries" or regions of medieval Europe (England, Scotland, Ireland, France, Burgundy, Italy, Spain, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, and German Silesia - now in Poland). For the most part, we have chosen, not the wellknown works of named composers, but rarer repertoire - most of it anonymous - sacred and secular, Latin and vernacular, vocal and instrumental, in an attempt to reflect the range and variety of styles, genres, and tonal possibilities from this long historical span and large geographical area.
The form of medieval music which comes most readily to most people's minds is unaccompanied plainsong (or "Gregorian chant"), which was overwhelmingly the commonest musical expression of the period, sung in the daily round of religious services in monasteries, cathedrals, parish churches, and courtly chapels, and surviving in thousands of liturgical manuscripts. The chant could also be embellished in various ways, through melodic or rhythmic ornamentation, or the addition of extra voice parts [2, 4, 7, 9, 15], even instrumental embellishment . Items  and  are extra-liturgical pieces grounded in the plainsong tradition, the former short and simple, by a composer whose very name is uncertain, the latter substantial and elaborate, by an important religious figure of the twelfth century. Not all devotional music, however, was in the style of plainsong: item  combines a pious text with a popular tune; [ 16] is by a poet, the bulk of whose output is manifestly un-clerical in its preoccupations; [ 1] is in a lively, popular style, recounting one of the more improbable miracles of the Virgin Mary. We cannot impose on the culture (or rather cultures) of the Middle Ages modern notions about boundaries between sacred and secular - even in songs concerned primarily with earthly love, references abound to God, the Virgin Mary and other saints, and such religious practices as pilgrimage. A liturgical piece could be performed on a civic occasion, or as courtly entertainment; instrumental music might be performed as a votive offering (as in the story of a minstrel playing before a statue of the Virgin); a secular chanson could form part of a programme summoning the faithful to a crusade.
Much of the music heard by people in the Middle Ages was improvised, or orally transmitted. This is particularly true of epic, and instrumental dances, and the wonder is not how little has survived, but that any of it was written down at all. Even in the medieval music which has come down to us, the notation conveys only part of the information necessary to create a performance; elements of ornamentation, rhythmic interpretation, and instrumentation require research into treatises, chronicles, other literary sources, and artistic depictions. Nor can there be a single, monolithic approach to interpreting this information, since elements of musical performance style varied widely from place to place and over the course of centuries. For example, pronunciation of language evolved, not only in the European vernaculars, but in Latin as well, and instruments popular in certain times and places seem to have been unheard of in others. All these considerations have informed the performances on this recording.
Quen quer que ten en desden is an example of what the modem imagination might consider an odd juxtaposition of religious ideas and concerns with a "secular" style and genre. The Cantigas de Santa Maria are a collection of over four hundred songs attributed to Alfonso X "el Sabio" (or "the Wise"), King of Castile, whose court was a centre of culture, learning, and, apparently, religious tolerance, where Christians, Moslems, and Jews lived and worked together. The Cantigas recount miracles of the Virgin Mary - many familiar from other sources - in vivid narrative; every tenth is more straightforwardly devotional in tone, but they are not liturgical music, rather, pious entertainment. The songs are in the popular villancico form, with a repeated refrain, suggesting the alternation of a soloist with a group; this particular cantiga is one whose notation seems to imply an assymetrical metre of great rhythmic vitality. One of several manuscripts of the Cantigas collection is illuminated with numerous depictions of musicians, suggesting a richness of instrumental usage to match the cultural diversity of Alfonso's court, and the instruments used here are all among those depicted in the miniatures: lute (evolved from the Moorish oud), vielle, and darabukka (or zarb), the hourglass-shaped ceramic drum popular today throughout North Africa and the Middle East; this is the only depiction of this instrument from the Middle Ages in the West, and interestingly, the drummer shown is female.
Ex ejus tumba is a two-part organum in the style of the school of Notre Dame de Paris, dating from the late twelfth or early thirteenth century. It is transcribed from a manuscript now in the Ducal Library in Wolfenbüttel in Germany, but once the property of St. Andrews Priory in Scotland, one of the three main sources of this style of polyphony. The connection between Scotland and France is not unexpected - the existence of Parisian-style music in Scotland fits in with the other political and cultural ties between the two kingdoms during the Middle Ages. Ex ejus tumba is the Vespers responsory for the feast of St. Nicholas (December 6), and may represent an early stage in the development of the Notre Dame repertory, perhaps as early as the latter half of the twelfth century. In its original form, the responsory was a piece of plainsong sung alternately by one or two cantors and the entire choir, in this manner: Intonation (cantors) - Respond (choir) - Verse (cantors) - shortened Respond (choir). In the organum version, the cantors' sections are set for two voices, one of which sings the notes of the plainsong, while the other sings a countermelody to it. The style of the solo sections ranges from the rhapsodic and improvisatory style of organum purum, in which the plainsong melody is sung in long, sustained notes while the second ornaments it with elaborate melismas, to brief sections in stricter discantus style, in which the two voices move more-or-less together. We have taken the rhythmic ambiguity of the notation, especially in the lengthy sections of organum purum, to indicate a flexible attitude to the actual length of the notes. The situation is only slightly clearer in the sections of discantus, but the necessity of fitting the parts together in a manner both aesthetically pleasing and theoretically correct makes the task somewhat easier. Our version remains, however, one of several possible valid interpretations of this piece.
The English Estampie, thought to date from the end of the thirteenth century, is unusual in two respects. Surviving dance music from this period is very rare, and the notated texture of this piece is unique in the medieval dance repertoire: it is written monophonically throughout, until the final section, or punctum, which expands to three parts. This performance, on lute, gittern, and harp, accommodates these parts, and enables us to provide improvised accompaniments for the tune in the rest of the piece. The use of the lute places our performance in the early fourteenth century, by which time this instrument had been introduced into England.
The motet Rosa delectabilis/[Regali ex progenie]/Regalis exoritur is dedicated to the Virgin Mary. The middle voice incorporates complete the plainsong Regali ex progenie, which is the third antiphon of Lauds for the Nativity of the Virgin (September 8). This part is not designated as such in the manuscript; we have supplied the text ourselves, and it is likely that a competent singer of the time would have been able to do the same. The middle part is further distinguished by its division into seven units of identical rhythmic structure (a technique known today as isorhythm). This structural element incorporates silence as well as sound in its pattern, providing the opportunity for lively, recurring passages between the outer voices, which are rhythmically distinct from those passages involving all three parts. Given the relative concealment of the chant melody, it is unlikely that the motet was used liturgically in place of the plainsong. All three texts, however are general enough to be appropriate for virtually any of the myriad feasts and other devotions to the Virgin.
Peperit virgo is also in honour of the Virgin Mary, but comes from a nonliturgical source: the fourteenth-century Franciscan Bishop of Ossory, Richard de Ledrede, composed new texts for a number
of well-known tunes, so that his clerics would be able to sing pious words rather than "songs which are shameful, secular, and smack of the theatre". A marginal note indicates that Peperit virgo was to be sung to the tune of Mayde yn the moore lay: a secular lyric whose unusual metre matches that of the thirteenth-century English song Brid one breere. As suggested by F. Ll. Hamson and E. J. Dobson in Medieval English Songs, we have set the Irish bishop's lyrics to the older tune. The practice of setting new words to preexisting tunes (known as contrafactum) is well-attested in the Middle Ages, and has continued to enjoy popularity to the present day.
The Scottish "pleugh sang" entitled My heartly service appears to be a learned adaptation or parody of the "Plough Monday" folk-drama or ritual: on the first Monday after Epiphany, ploughmen presented themselves to prospective employers for the spring ploughing. The text suggests the enactment of the death of the old ox, with elements of stylized rivalry, and calls on figures of myth - Arthur and Orfeus - as well as more (apparently) comic characters like "Falselips Fergus". The semi- or pseudo-pagan tone of the folk-ritual elements is offset by the invocations of the Trinity and the Rood in the final section. The three vocal parts are found in the "Thomas Wode partbooks", an assortment of related sources dating from the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, and now scattered among a number of different libraries; the style of the music and the tone of the religious references, however, suggest an origin shortly after 1500.
John Dunstable's setting of the Marian antiphon Alma redemptoris mater is for three voices, one of two settings of this chant attributed to him. The antiphon is sung at Compline from the beginning of Advent to the Feast of the Purification, or Candlemas (February 2). Each of the three main sections in this setting begins with a paraphrase of the plainsong melody in the top voice; the first section ends with a return of the plainsong, beginning on the word "surgere", in such an exposed manner that there can be little doubt of the composer's intent, but in the closing portions of the other sections there is less apparent relationship between the polyphony and the chant. One of the more striking features of Dunstable's style is his conscious differentiation between two- and three-voice textures. In this antiphon, the contrast is used in two ways: to give the impression of the cantor's intonation at the beginning with the simple discant-style duet (a later manifestation of the technique employed in Ex ejus tumba), and as a structural device to set off the more intimate middle section from the two outer ones, which are primarily in three parts. Most important, however, is the characteristic sound of the "contenance angloise" which pervades the work, with its emphasis on thirds and sixths and full, sweet sonorities. It is this distinctively English sound, with Dunstable as its principal exponent, that by 1500 was recognised as the most important innovation in European music of the fifteenth century, and is held to mark the beginning of the transition from medieval to renaissance music.
The first of our French selections is a song by the thirteenth-century trouvère Colin Muset. Most of the troubadour and trouvère repertoire consists of monophonic songs on the subject of courtly love, expressing sentiments such as those found in . Colin' s song, however, is a comic reflection on the vicissitudes of the life of a professional minstrel, or jongleur - the difficulties involved in extracting payment from noble employers, and the consequent penury and domestic strife; the poet's "lady" is no distant, idealized figure, but a woman with a firm grasp of life's practical essentials. As the text suggests, we have provided an improvised accompaniment on vielle, one of the chief instruments of the period.
The setting of the Advent hymn Conditor alme siderum presented here is an intriguing piece of anonymous French polyphony of the fourteenth century, and the melody is still in use today (as "Creator of the stars of night" or "Creator of the starry height"). The six stanzas of the hymn are set in alternatim style - alternating between plainsong (sung by full choir or congregation) and polyphony (sung by soloists). In the polyphonic verses, the tune appears as a cantus firmus in the top voice, with few written embellishments; the bottom voice also moves fairly slowly, and the rhythmic interest is concentrated in the middle voice, which is full of syncopations and passing notes which serve to create or highlight pungent dissonances with and between the outer voices. We have added an extemporaneous polyphonic "Amen" in a similar style, to conclude the hymn.
Corps feminin is an attractive example of the ars subtilior, a style of music composed in the latter half of the fourteenth century at certain courts of southwestem Europe - including the papal court at Avignon - a style characterized by cross-rhythms between the parts, unusual turns of melody, and adventurous use of dissonance on structurally important beats. Texts were highly-wrought, often involving puzzles, acrostics, or other encoded messages, but some of these pieces were also set instrumentally; here we use flute, lute, and gothic harp. Little is known of the composer beyond his name and approximate period of activity.
The tradition of French courtly song developed by the trouvères had evolved, by the fifteenth century, into a polyphonic genre; songs were primarily in a three-part texture, with sophisticated refrain forms. Gilles Binchois' Je ne vis oncques la pareille is one chanson for whose performance we have a recorded context at the "Feast of the Pheasant", a grand spectacle staged by Philip the Good of Burgundy in 1454 to raise support for a crusade to recapture Constantinople from the Turks, one of the many entertainments was the singing of Je ne vis oncques by a richly-apparelled boy, riding on the back of a "stag", which accompanied his peformance. Here we have chosen to accompany the top line with lute and harp.
Medieval instrumental music was transmitted orally, and largely improvised; the tiny corpus which survives in manuscript is anomalous simply by virtue of its having been written down. The Italian manuscript now in the British Library (Add. MS 29987) is primarily a collection of vocal music, but includes fifteen instrumental dances, mostly estampies and saltarelli. We know from references in literary sources that these dance forms were popular, although we cannot know with any precision what steps or figures were involved, since the earliest dance treatises date from the fifteenth century. It is also impossible to be certain that the dances in this manuscript were typical of what Italian musicians played in the late fourteenth century - that anyone saw fit to notate them suggests that they were unusual in some way. Italian musical iconography of the period presents us with a wide array of possible instruments, and the recorder, lute, and vielle used here are all featured in depictions.
In Io son un pellegrin, the poet would have us believe he is a pilgrim. He laments his poor lot, as do many pilgrims in song, but with a difference - he tells us what an attractive wretch he is, with his beautiful voice, sweet demeanour, and blonde tresses. This is the first sign that he is not what he seems, and when he tells us that he carries only a pilgrim's staff and bag (with no mention of any other religious articles), it is clear that he seeks something other than a spiritual reward in his pilgrimage. The anonymous composer expressed this double entendre in an exquisitely tasteful two-part setting, with the most genteel and understated ornamentation written into the upper part. There is only the slightest hint of despair throughout, as if the composer were winking slyly at the pilgrim's predicament.
One of the commonest forms of entertainment in all strata of medieval society was the musical recitation, with or without instrumental accompaniment, of epic verse, but melodies for this form were almost never written down. Wolfram von Eschenbach's Titurel, of which two fragments survive, falls into the category of literary epic; it relates further adventures of the family who are the guardians of the Holy Grail in his better-known Parzifal. In one manuscript of a later reworking of the text by Albrecht von Scharfenberg, known as Der jüngere Titurel, a reciting melody has been notated above a single stanza; because it fits the metre and line-lengths of the earlier version as well, we have used it to set a pivotal section of the second "Titurel fragment", in which the young protagonist Schionatulander captures an escaped hunting hound. The improvised accompaniment, on small harp, is conjectural, following the tune and underlining significant points in the text.
The motet Ad regnum epulentum/Noster cetus comes from a manuscript in the Benedictine monastery in Engelberg, Switzerland. At first glance, it appears to be a late-thirteenth- or early- fourteenth-century isorhythmic motet, in which the lower part consists of a melody sung several times while the upper part is a freely-composed counterpoint to it. Although pieces of this vintage are generally in mensural notation (in which a note indicates not only pitch, but duration in the context of the metre of the piece), the notation of Codex Engelberg 314 looks very much like late medieval German plainsong notation, which is rhythmically ambiguous, and it is impossible always to be sure how the two parts are to be aligned: our performance takes advantage of the metrical flexibility implied by the notation. In fact, this particular piece probably dates from the late fourteenth century, and is part of a tradition of "archaic" polyphony in German-speaking lands, which extended into the fifteenth century, co-existing with the comparatively modem style of music like items , [l9], and .
Oswald von Wolkenstein was a pact, composer, nobleman, and adventurer whose travels took him to three continents, if his autobiographical poems are to be believed. His songs survive in two primary manuscripts compiled under his own direction; they include examples of courtly sophistication, earthy ribaldry, extravagant boasting, and sincere piety. Gesegnet sev die frucht is an example of the last, a simple "grace before meals", with a more general prayer for help against the power of the devil.
Nu bitt wir den heiligen geist is a three-part piece which appears in the set of partbooks from the 1480's known as the Glogauer Liederbuch; the version presented here is an instrumental setting, with divisions, or ornamental elaborations, similar to those used by German players of the fifteenth century. The instruments (recorder and lute) were chosen from among those depicted on the memorial stone of Conrad Paumann, a German virtuoso of the period. The lute is played here with the fingers, a method pioneered by German musicians of the fifteenth century, as opposed to the more usual medieval technique of playing with a quill.
In contrast to the Glogau repertoire, from the very end of the medieval period, we offer next what may be the earliest surviving example of German music in the vernacular, a short song invoking St. Peter. The piece is found in a Bavarian manuscript of a commentary on the book of Genesis by Hrabanus Maurus, notated in an empty space at the bottom of a page. The musical notation is "unheighted" - that is, the shape of the melody is indicated, but not the precise pitches. Much liturgical music in this notation can be read by comparing it with later, precisely pitched, sources of the same pieces, giving us a rough indication of the way it can be "deciphered", but in the absence of a later copy, our transcription of Unsar trohtin hat farsalt remains one of a number of possible interpretations.
The repertoire of the Glogauer Liederbuch includes instrumental pieces and vocal music, sacred and secular, in German and Latin - a varied selection which makes it almost impossible to guess who the original users of the part-books may have been. Ich bins erfreut is a song of amorous longing, in the form of a "tenor Lied", with the tenor as the primary voice, accompanied here by gittern, lute, and gothic harp. Der trotter schwanctz, is an instrumental dance, involving some complicated rhythmic interplay among the three parts, especially toward the end.
Much has been discovered and written recently about the extraordinary twelfth-century Benedictine abbess, mystic, scholar, and composer Hildegard of Bingen, whose highly-charged poetic and melodic language give her compositions an unmistakable individuality. The Symphonia virgìnum, with its triumphant celebration of chastity and virginity, echoing in spirit the Song of Songs, may have been intended for liturgical use - perhaps with the Common of Virgins (the selection of items common to feasts of virgin saints) - or as an extraliturgical devotional piece. Barbara Newman, in her translation of the texts of Hildegard's musical works, suggests that this piece and the Symphonia viduarum were intended to be sung by the two groups of nuns - virgins and widows - in her care.
A late twelfth-century Irish scribe named Cormac finished the not inconsiderable labour of copying a psalter by adding a brief colophon, asking any future users of the book to pray for him. Unusually, he set his request to music, and uniquely, set it in three parts - certainly one of the earliest uses of three-part texture from that corner of Europe. We conclude our selection of medieval music with this short piece, in something of the spirit of Cormac, hoping that listeners will be disposed to think favourably of all who have worked to produce this recording.
Andrea Budgey, Randall Rosenfeld, Bryan Martin