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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 contemporary sources.

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 amour).

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.

Gary Higginson

Disc contents
Per amor de costey
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
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]


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