Phalese (Petrus Phalesius) set up business as a bookseller
in Louvain in 1545; Louvain (Leuven) is the oldest University
town in the Netherlands. From 1551 he began to print music
from movable type. His output included sacred music (masses,
motets, magnificats) and secular music(chansons, pieces
in French lute entablature).
2005 the town of Louvain held a long festival, Townscape – Soundscape/Sounds
of Louvain from the 16th century which focused
attention on music from the town in the 16th century,
highlighting Phalese and the composers that he printed.
One of the items to come out of this festival is this disc
of music associated with Phalese.
composer most strongly associated with Phalese is Clemens
non Papa, so the publishers have taken advantage of this
connection to give the disc its rather misleading title.
Rather than concentrating on Clemens, the disc could quite
reasonable be called Sounds of Louvain from the 16th century.
don’t even know for certain that Clemens was a bon vivant.
From 1545 to 1549 Clemens was in service to Philippe II
de Croy, one of Emperor Charles’s generals. After Philippe’s
death Archduke Maximilian approached Philippe’s son (Philippe
III) on the subject of Clemens becoming Maximilian’s master
of music to his court. Philippe III replied with a strongly
negative opinion saying that Clemens was a drunkard and
a rake. We have no way of knowing whether this was true,
or just Philippe’s way of preventing Maximilian from poaching
Clemens from him.
this disc Capilla Flamenca, a four man vocal group, perform
a selection of Clemens’ music. They give us a varied anthology
including examples of his motets, French chansons and Dutch
songs. These latter used Psalm texts and were written for
Phalese’s rival publisher Sousato. They were intended to
enable the young to entertain themselves without danger
of being corrupted.
Louvain-based composer was Thomas Crecquillon who studied
at Louvain University and was a priest in the town. There
is another link between Crecquillon and Clemens. At various
times, there has been some confusion over attribution of
works to the two composers. Capilla Flamenca give us Crecquillon’s
chanson Dedens Tournai in praise of the town of
his birth and Jan van Outryve plays one of Crecquillon’s
is where I should perhaps give some statistics about the
disc, so that you can understand the way the programme
is constructed. Of the 26 tracks, 12 are by Clemens non
Papa, 8 are sung by Capilla Flamenca, 7 are played on the
lute by Jan van Outryve, 6 on the organ by Joris Verdin
and 6 by the instrumental ensemble La Caccia. So the disc
contains an interesting and varied programme, one which
is extremely well put together.
lively instrumental group, La Caccia, play a suite arranged
by Piet Strijkers from the music of Sebastian Vreedman,
whose lute entablatures were printed by Phalese. La Caccia
also play instrumental versions of motets and chansons;
the results are remarkably effective. La Caccia open the
disc with an instrumental version of a motet by Jacobus
Vaet, Continuo lacrimas; Vaet was Maximilian’s master
of music at the time of Clemens’ death and the motet was
a lament for Clemens; so even though Maximilian was unable
to employ him, Clemens was obviously held in high regard
by his court.
Jan van Outryve allows us to hear some of the entablatures
played as written. Amongst the organ solos, Joris Verdin
plays contemporary arrangements of Clemens’ music by Antonio
de Cabezon, Elias Nicolaus Ammerbach and Giovanni Bassano;
he also includes some of Cabazon and Ammerbach’s own compositions.
The Ammerbach and Bassano arrangements are rather usefully
preceded by performances of Clemens’ originals by Capilla
you ignore the rather misleading title, this is an attractive
and informative programme. Performances are lively and
intelligent, mixing in subtlety where needed. The performers
are effective at distinguishing the various styles of performance
required, depending on the nature of the piece. The decision
to mix genres and performers means that we get a rather
effective mixed programme. More than anything else, this
helps to articulate the varied nature of Phalese’s printing
CD booklet provides an interesting essay about Clemens
with some further information about Pierre Phalese. Texts
are given for all the songs, including the one in purely
instrumental versions, which is very helpful. Unfortunately
translations are not provided and whilst people might cope
with the French and Latin, I’m not sure how many people
will be able to translate the Dutch easily.
notes are not very helpful when it comes to the other composers
included on the disc. It would be interesting to know more
about the connection between the blind Spanish organist
Antonio de Cabezon, his son Hernando and Phalese. Antonio
de Cabezon served King Philip of Spain and travelled abroad
Phalese might not be known to you, but this charming disc
provides an enjoyable means to learn more about the music
printed by this influential publisher.
Donate and keep us afloat
Follow us on Twitter
Seen & Heard
Editor in Chief