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Music At The Age of Rubens
Petrus PHALESIUS
(ca.1510–1573)
Suite de Danses; Ungaresca et Saltarello; Fantasie et l’autre; Assiste parata pour deux luths’ Suite de Danses; Deux bransles simples; Bransles de la suite du contraint legier; L’Arbescello ballo furlane; Schiarazula marazula; Passomezzo + Reprince; Allemande et Saltarello “Poussinghe”
Tielman SUSATO (1500–1564)
La Bataille; Suite de Danses “Mille Ducas”; Basses Dances
Nicolaas GOMBERT (1490–1556)
Fantasie pour deux luths; Plus oultre pour deux luths
Ivo de VENTO (1543–1575)
Les ruisseaux qui coulent
Carolus LUYTHON (1557–1620)
Canzon all Francese
Consortium Antiquum (Greet Gress: recorder, crumhorn, gamba; Dolf Liegois: descant viola; Wilfried Dierckx: recorder, crumhorn; Elisabeth Wersterlinck: tenor gamba; Victor Van Puyenbroeck: lute; Johan Lauwereins: sackbut, recorder, crumhorn; Janpieter Biesemans: positive organ, director)
rec. 1975, 1977, 1999
TALENT DOM 1029 59 [57.55]
 


In the 16th Century, Antwerp and Leuven were major centres of printing. Pierre Phalese (Petrus Phalesius) was based in Leuven and started out as a bookseller. In 1551 he started his own music printing house, printing music from movable type. To reach a wider audience, in 1570 he entered into partnership with Jean Bellere (Bellerus) a printer based in Antwerp. His output included the sacred (masses, motets, magnificats) and the secular (chansons, pieces in French lute entablature), written by composers such as Clemens non Papa, Lassus and Rore.
 
One of Phalese’s main rivals was Tielman Susato. Susato was born in Cologne, but from 1529 worked in Antwerp as a copyist, cathedral musician and town instrumentalist. He started music publishing in 1543 and his last publication dates from 1561. He was the most important printer in the Netherlands, printing music by Janequin, Josquin, Lassus, Rore, Willaert and Clemens non Papa.
 
His printing materials were inherited by Christoph Plantin and Phalese’s move to Antwerp may have been to forestall competition from Plantin. Phalese’s firm was continued by his sons and then his grand-daughters and flourished into the 17th century.
 
Such a history would be interesting enough to form the basis for a CD, but for some reason the music on this new disc, much of it originally published by Susato and Phalese, has been linked to the painter Peter Paul Rubens.
 
Undoubtedly Rubens would have heard much of the dance music played in this disc. Much of the dance music of the time was common to both aristocracy and middle-class, so we can imagine that Rubens heard music such as this. Whether this is any value to us, is a moot point. Perhaps it helps to recreate Rubens’ world. But for some reason, the publishers have chosen to illustrate the booklet with examples of Rubens’ sacred art. A disc of dance music should surely have been illustrated by his secular pictures; then there would have been scope for a disc of sacred music related to the altar pieces that Rubens painted for the churches in Amsterdam.
 
That said, the music on the disc is attractive and at times quite toe-tapping. A variety of types of dance music is included. This was a period when the older dances of aristocratic origin, the basse-dance, pavane and galliard, were being replaced by others such as the bransle, allemande, courante and ungaresca. Though many types were common to aristocracy and middle-class, such dances as the ungaresca and saltarello had popular origins.
 
Phalesius’s attractive Suite de Dance (Allemande I – II et II; Allemande et Courante; Premiere Bransle Commune; Bransle Gay I et II), Gombert’s two lute fantasies and Phalesius’s Assiste parata pour deux luths all come from Phalesius’s important publication Hortus Musarum from 1552, a book of lute entablatures. Susatos’s La Bataille and Basses Dances come from his own 3ième livre.
 
The Consortium Antiquum give lively accounts of the music; they are an attractive-sounding ensemble. The booklet does not state who arranged the entablatures for instrumental ensemble, so I presume the group’s arrangements are their own. These arrangements are apposite, never over-doing the instrumentation. Tempi are lively and none of the pieces out-stays its welcome.
 
There are moments when the recording seems a little too acidic, but this might be attributed to its apparent age.
 
It would be possible to imagine a more sophisticated performance of the music, but the players manage to conjure up an attractive picture of people dancing and enjoying themselves in Rubens’ Antwerp.
 
Robert Hugill
 

 



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