Arnold de LANTINS (d.1432) & Hugo de LANTINS (d.1430) Secular Works
Le Miroir de Musique/Baptiste Romain
rec. April 2014, Beuggen. Schloßkirche, Germany RICERCAR RIC365 [67.07]
I first came across Arnold de Lantins, as possibly some
other readers did, in the late 1960s with a motet, In tua memoria,
beautifully sung on a Turnabout LP (TV34058S) by the Purcell Consort
of Voices. It was over forty years later that I found in a wonderful
CD shop in Bordeaux – I am often praising French classical CD
shops – a disc of the Missa Verbum Incarnatum by Arnold:
Ricercar RIC 207 - Capilla Flamenca. It is an interesting mass, being
the first in which the composer links all the movements with a head
motif. The booklet of this new CD is adorned on the front with much
of the manuscript of the Mass’s Agnus dei. The cardboard
casing is garlanded with a portion of Van Eyck’s mesmerically
beautiful "Adoration of the Lamb" seen in Ghent not far from
the Liège homes of the Lantins. Anyway, I was very pleased when this
new disc came my way.
It’s the composers’ secular works this time that are being
highlighted although there are settings of Tota pulcra es amica
mea, by Arnold, a text from the Old Testament Song of Songs
in four-parts and a three-part motet in honour of St. Nicholas Celsa
sublimatur victoria by Hugo.
The group Le Miroir de Musique is new to me and they consist of four
singers — two sopranos and two tenors — and six instrumentalists
playing vielle, hurdy-gurdy, recorders, lute, gittern, slide trumpet
and bagpipes. The latter is played by their director, Baptiste Romain.
The music dates from the early fifteenth century and both composers
were born at the end of the previous century. Even so, there is little
sign of influence from the complex art of, say, Jacobus de Senlis and
Matteo de Perugia, composers of the so-called ‘ars subtilior’.
Except that is for the extraordinary Je suy exent aman pour amour
by Hugo which must have taken some rehearsing.
The music of this period is often in three parts and the style is, not
unsurprisingly, akin to early Dufay. It's also clearly influenced
by Dunstable and the so-called ‘contenance anglais’ with
its sweet harmonies and increasing emphasis on melody, mainly in the
top line. The music largely receives suitably suave and sophisticated
performances — perhaps a little too much at times — especially
in the vocal pieces. The instrumental work is also mostly beautifully
handled. For example a lively instrumental version of Ce jour de
l’an is offered as well as one of Amour server et honnourer
before we hear the delightful song itself. However in Grant ennui
m’est, tres douce simple et coye we are subjected to the
loud bagpipes. Oscar Wilde suggested a definition of a gentleman was
“one who could play the bagpipes but chose not to” and in
Chanter ne scay the exciting slide trumpet is added. Baptiste
Romain on the bagpipes is mercifully more subtle in this performance.
The vielle and lute are, as ever, quite delicious. We are informed that
the instrumentalists have ‘adapted’ six of the songs and
worked them out in the style of the Faenza Codex (c.1420) and other
The hit of the CD is, for me, Hugo’s Plaindre m’estuet
which Christopher Page also recognised as a song of exceptional beauty
and recorded it for Hyperion (Helios
CDH55291: ‘A Song for Francesca’). I prefer this new
performance, as it is a little slower and consequently more expressive.
The songs are typically in a form known as 'Rondeau',
generally ABAABAB. The texts are similar in that the lover, it seems
to be mostly a male, has been rejected by his lady. The text runs: "Amongst
lovers I am excluded from love/Fortune has taken me in her power/Comfort,
joy, merriment has left me." (Je suy extent entre aman pour
The booklet has an excellent essay by none other than David Fallows,
renowned for his expertise in the music of this period. All texts are
well translated and there are photos of the performers. We are also
treated to a black and white manuscript illustration of Hugo’s
lovely song Hélas amour, que ce qu’endure which is worth
following through as you listen.
This is one of my Recordings of the Year so far.
Disc contents Hugo de LANTINS Per amor de costey
[4.47] Un seul confort pour mon cuer resjoïr [1.52] Hélas, amour que ce qu’endure [3.45] Chanter ne scay ce poyse moy [2.33] Celsa sublimatur victoria/Sabine, presul dignissime
[1.47] Grant ennui m’est tres douce simple et coye [3.33] Plaindre me’estuet de ma damme jolye [6.05] Je suy exent entre aman por amour [4.31] Mirar non posso ni conzerner [2.04] Io sum tuo servo [2.58] Arnold de LANTINS Las, pouray je mon martire
celer [2.49] Hélas emy! ma dame et ma mestresse [3.45] Amour servir et honnourer [5.08] Ne me vueillés belle oblier [3.44] Ce jour de l’an, belle, je vous supply [2.46] Tota pulcra es amica mea - vocal [2.12] Tota pulcra es amica mea - instrumental version [2.44] Puis que je voy, belle, que ne m’amés [5.24] Puisque je suy cyprianés [2.11]