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In Nomine - Heaven and hell in the European musical landscape circa 1600
Les Harpies (Odile Edouard (violin), Mickaël Cozien (cornemuse, gaita), Freddy Eichelberger (organ, cister), Pierre Gallon (regal, spinettino, colachon), Matthieu Boutineau (regal, spinettino))
Le Choeur des Huguenots
No texts included
rec. 2015, Abbatiale of Saint-Savin-en-Lavedan, Haute-Pyrénées, France DDD
L'ENCELADE ECL1502 [65:10]

Sometimes one doesn't quite know what to make of a disc. The present one is a good example. The subtitle refers to heaven and hell, but to what extent the items in the programme are connected to either of them is not always clear.

The starting point of the recording project which has resulted in this disc, is an organ in Saint-Savin, in the valley of the Pyrenees. The original instrument dates from 1557 but very little of it has been preserved. In 1994 Alain Sals and Charles Henry, organ makers based in Entrechaux (Vaucluse), were commissioned to restore and reconstruct the organ. It was inaugurated in 1997. It is a remarkable instrument, especially for its very low pitch of a=364 Hz. It is tuned at meantone temperament. That makes it pre-eminently suited for the repertoire performed here, which is from the 16th and 17th centuries. The sound of the organ, compared by Freddy Eichelberger in his liner-notes with that of an instrumental consort, pointed in the direction of a programme with music for several instruments.

Eichelberger describes the programme as “a musical tour of Europe on which witchcraft may mean not just hell but also resistance, and where heaven is not necessarily as sublime as it might appear”. It is a mixture of the sacred and the secular and of traditional or folk music and ‘art’ music. Personal experiences and memories of the participants in the project have played a major role in the selection of pieces. The two first items, for instance, are meant as a tribute to the Clemencic Consort whose founder, René Clemencic, inspired some of them to turn to early music. These pieces are from a manuscript with Hungarian music, whereas Slap and kiss and Rolling Hornpipe are from Lancashire and date from the 17th century. At the time the hornpipe “was said to have been performed by the Devil himself!” Les Bouffons is from France and is the French name of a passamezzo moderno. Also the closing suite of bransles is from France. Whether Attaingnant and Gervaise are the composers of these pieces is impossible to say. It is quite possible that they merely arranged musical material which had been handed down from ancient times.

Two madrigals from the pen of Palestrina represent 'art music'. They were famous at the time and were often taken as the subject of arrangements. Io son ferito ahi lasso is heard here in diminutions by Giovanni Battista Bovicelli. Both madrigals return in Christian Erbach's Ricercar 9. toni.

The sacred element is represented by Psalm 65 from the Genevan Psalter. It is heard first in a two-part version at the organ, and then Odile Edouard joins Freddy Eichelberger and plays an arrangement of the psalm melody in the manner of a diminution. It is followed by a version for organ and regale and a four-part setting which is sung by the participants in the recording. The In Nomine is from the English tradition: many such pieces were written by English composers of the 16th and 17th centuries. One of them was John Bull, whose In Nomine for organ is played by Eichelberger. He also improvises an In Nomine; the cantus firmus is played by Mikaël Cozien on the gaita, the name given in the Pyrenees to the bagpipe.

Who will enjoy this disc? If you don’t like the organ, you may well stay away from it. Or not: maybe you will come to like it. If that doesn’t happen, it is certainly not Freddy Eichelberger’s fault. He shows the instrument from its sacred to its more down-to-earth side. If you don’t like folk music, you may be inclined to ignore this disc too. That would be a shame: I myself am not a great lover of folk music, but I really like this disc, even the folksy and traditional parts of it. That is partly because the music is quite nice, but also because it is played so well. Odile Edouard plays a major part in those pieces, and although she is a ‘classical’ violinist, she plays some pieces in the manner of a folk fiddler and does so very well. The other musicians are just as good.

Anyone who likes good music should enjoy this disc. If you are sceptical: just give it a try and you may be pleasantly surprised.

Johan van Veen

Chorea [2:11]
Polonica [2:57]
Giovanni Pierluigi DA PALESTRINA (c1525-1594)
Vestiva i colli [3:26]
Slap and kiss [3:03]
Szégény legény éneke [2:22]
Giovanni Battista BOVICELLI (c1550-c1594)
Io son ferito ahi lasso (after Palestrina) [5:37]
Scjaraçule maraçule [2:06]
Les Bouffons [2:07]
Freddy EICHELBERGER (*1961)
In nomine (improvisation) [4:46]
Rolling hornpipe [1:51]
Christian ERBACH (c1570-1635)
Ricercar 9. toni [6:05]
O Mely Csudalatos [2:28]
Psaume LXV, verset à deux voix [1:58]
Psaume LXV, verset orné [3:08]
Psaume LXV, verset au ténor [1:58]
Guillaume FRANC (c1505-1571)
Psaume LXV à 4 [0:52]
First Witches dance [2:38]
John BULL (c1562-1628)
In Nomine [7:49]
Pierre ATTAINGNANT (c1494-c1551), Claude GERVAISE (c1525-c1583) (eds?)
Suite de bransles [7:46]



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