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Ensemble Syntagma - Remembrance 
Gautier D’ÉPINAL (1205/30-1272)
Aÿmans fins et verais [4:10]
Quand je voi l’erbe menue [4:45] ANONYMOUS
Chanson (rondeau), from the Roman du Fauvel [2:54]
Gautier D’ÉPINAL (1205/30-1272)
Desconfortez et de joie parti [5:11]
Puis qu’il m’estuet de ma dolour [2:40]
Colin MUSET (13th century)
Trop volontiers chanteroie [2:44]
Gautier D’ÉPINAL (1205/30-1272)
Aÿmans fins et verais [5:36]
Outrecuidiers et ma fole pensee [5:08] ANONYMOUS
Estampie, from the Roman du Fauvel [2:33]
Jacques de CYSOING (middle of 13th century)
Chanson [2:23]
Gautier D’ÉPINAL (1205/30-1272)
Par son dolz comandemant [4:20]
Commencement de couce saison bele [3:31]
Jehannot de L’ESCUREL (d.1304)
Estampie [4:00]
Gautier D’ÉPINAL (1205/30-1272)
Amours et bone volontez [3:43]
Quand je voi l’erbe menue [4:45]
Gautier DE COINCY (1177-1236)
Chanson [2:16]
Ensemble Syntagma: Akira Tachikawa (countertenor), Annemieke Cantor (mezzo), Emilia Danilevski (narrator), Bernhard Stilz (recorders), Anna Danilevski (recorders, bowed fiddle), Markus Wesche (medieval lute), Benoît Stasiaczyck, Peng Xiaobo (percussion), Sophia Danilevski (tromba marina), Pascale Van Coppenolle (organetto), Alexandre Danilevski (medieval lutes, gittern, bowed fiddle, director)
rec. June-July 2006, Chapelle St. Augustin, Bitche, France
Texts and Translations included


Experience Classicsonline

This is a CD as historically fascinating as it is extraordinarily beautiful and moving.

There has been a good deal of musicological toing-and-froing as to the precise identity of the French poet and composer Gaultier d’Épinal. The traditional view was that he was a chevalier, born between 1205 and 1230, who died in 1272, and who belonged to the ruling family of Épinal, being related to important aristocrats, such as the Counts of Savoy. More recently (in a book published in 2007) Robert Lug has suggested that the artist was actually a cleric, a nephew of the Bishop of Metz, and that he died as early as 1232. The difference of opinion may never be satisfactorily resolved. In one sense, the identity of Gaultier is relatively clear – he is the author/composer of a group of songs which seem to have a coherent personality. In the booklet notes to this CD Emilia Danievski observes that he writes “as if he lived at the end of a civilization rather than at its beginning. His poetry, like his music, is permeated by the nostalgia of a modern man who knows that the Golden Age never existed and never will. All his writings possess a grave tone: even the joy and triumph of love … have a character of lamentation on human limitations”. His texts have a dense, syntactically ambiguous character - partly because his French seems influenced by German habits. Naturally enough, his work has general similarities with that of other trouvères, but to read the texts of his poems and to hear them performed by Syntagma is to have the sense that – more than with most of the trouvères – one is actually making contact with the sensibility of an individual. The music is inventive and often unexpected in its rejection of symmetry and repetition and the results are often very beautiful.

While the dominant tone of Gaultier’s songs is one of almost meditative melancholy, there is a good deal of variety on this well planned CD. The emphasis here is on a delicacy that seems well suited to Gautier’s prevailing sentiments. The interleaving of more robust compositions by his contemporaries and the use of a variety of instrumental combinations and vocal resources ensures that the danger of excessive sameness, with its risk of blunting the listener’s sharpness of attention is kept comprehensively at bay. Thus a ravishingly gentle and introspectively thoughtful love song such as ‘Outrecuidiers et ma fole pensee’:

Presumptuousness and my foolish thoughts
Cause me to sing, and I do not know why
Except that I have looked at her;
But does she belong to me, just because
I have looked at her?
Will I have found my paradise
If everything becomes mine as soon as I see it?
It is not true, but I am disturbed by a
Sweet hope, which I enjoy singing about

(beautifully sung by Akira Tachikawa and Annemarie Cantor) is followed by an anonymous Estampie, performed by organetto and percussion. ‘Par son dolz commandement’ is sung very slowly (by the excellent Akira Tachikawa) to a decidedly basic accompaniment of fiddles and creates a mood of seemingly timeless stasis. It is succeeded by the purely instrumental ‘Commencement de douce saison bele’, which broadly sustains the mood and an Estampie by Jehannot de l’Escurel which begins in much the same fashion, before evolving into a rhythmically seductive dance. The sense is of a CD which has a real shape and design of its own.

In an area full of uncertainties, Alexandre Danilevski refuses dogmatism. Unwilling to claim that he knows all the answers, he is happy to demonstrate alternate possibilities. So, for example, we get two versions of ‘Aÿmans fins et verais’, one instrumental and one vocal, the two rhythmically very different from one another.

This is rare repertoire and is played and sung with great persuasiveness. It is a long time since I enjoyed a CD of early medieval secular music quite so much.

Glyn Pursglove


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