Agnes Dobszay, Janos Mezei, Andras Soos (5)
Janka Szendrei 2-4, 8-10, 12-14, 17-19, 21, 26
Laszlo Dobszay 1, 5-7, 11, 15, 16, 20, 22, 24
========= from the cover ==========
Devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary was a central part of religious life in the late Middle Ages. In humble churches and great cathedrals, in courtly chapels and imperial oratories, special services were held in praise of the Virgin, in memory of her life, and especially in the hope that she would intercede for the souls in purgatory. At the Cathedral of Cambrai, this devotion found a special focus in the painting of Our Lady of Grace, believed to be the work of the Evangelist Luke. Placed in the Trinity chapel of the Cathedral in 1451, it inspired the formation of a Marian confraternity, and the members included a canon of the Cathedral, Michael De Beringhen, and the greatest composer of the time, Guillaume du Fay (c. 1398-1494).
In 1457 the dying canon De Beringhen bequeathed money to establish a new Marian feast whose first celebration in Europe would be held in the Cathedral. Known as the Recollectio Fes-torum Beatae Mariae Virginis, the feast would memorialize six Marian feasts already celebrated: her Conception, Nativity, Annunciation, Visitation, Purification and Assumption. De Beringhen asked Gilles Carlier, dean of the Cathedral and author of a short music treatise, to provide the texts. Next, a messenger brought these to Guillaume du Fay, then at the Court of Savoy, who composed the plainchant. Upon the messenger's return, some one hundred days later, the Recollectio was copied and added to the liturgical books of the Cathedral by several scribes, including Simon Mellet, who alone added the feast to twenty-seven books. On the fourth Sunday in August in 1458, the year following De Beringhen's decease, the new chant by du Fay was heard for the first time in the Cathedral, sung by the canons, about twelve petit vicaires, six choirboys and their maftre de chant. These events were recorded in the accounts made by De Beringhen's executors. Although the manuscript and printed liturgical books from Cambrai Cathedral containing the Recollectio do not bear attributions to Carlier or to du Fay, the archival documents and the music and texts in the liturgical books provide convincing evidence that these sources do contain the work of the two men. The names of du Fay and Carlier are associated with the Recollectio in documents spanning over thirty years. These documents indicate that only one endowment introduced the Recollectio to the Cathedral liturgy and that this was the endowment of canon De Beringhen. The documents also name only du Fay as composer of the music and Carlier as author of the texts. Surviving liturgical books from the Cathedral, which date from the mid-fifteenth century, contain a uniform version of all texts for the Recollectio and of some of the music, on folios added to the manuscripts in precisely the fashion mentioned by the documents. Since the texts and the chant in these earlier sources are transmitted without a single alteration in a printed antiphoner from the Cathedral dated c. 1500 (Cambrai, Bibliotheque municipale, XVI C4), the only source from the Cathedral to contain the entire plainchant, we can conclude that the Recollectio in this antiphoner, including the plain-chant not found elsewhere in sources from Cambrai, can only be the work of Carlier and du Fay.
This conclusion is confirmed, because manuscripts from Aosta, in the Savoy region where du Fay composed the music, also contain identical chant for the entire office. Du Fay is thus the only composer of polyphony from before the time of Palestrina who is known to have composed plainchant that survives. Du Fay's plainchant for the Recollectio includes the antiphons, responsories, verses and hymns for two Vespers, Matins and Lauds. The chants for the Gradual, Alleluia verse, Offertory and Communion of the Mass are also very likely by du Fay.
These chants are representative of the elegant melodies for which du Fay was known. They are also models of modal construction. The mode of each chant is clearly delineated at the outset, and emphasis of the repercussion or confinal, the use of conventional melodic figures, and the choice of ambitus and final confirm this. Yet these are not mere stereotypes, for every melody is unique, composed and not borrowed. The Recollectio has many characteristics of a genre which flourished in the Middle Ages-the rhymed office. Although textual patterns are inconsistent, unlike those of most late-medieval rhymed offices, the music adheres to the characteristic numerical ordering of the church modes typical of such offices. Thus, the antiphons and responsories of the Office are composed in modes 1-5 or 1-8. Only one responsory, Ad nutum Domini, borrowed from a much older Annunciation office, and the ninth antiphon of Matins, Gloriam Virignis, do not follow the modal scheme. Gloriam Virginis is unusual in that it does not return to mode 1 as does its corresponding responsory, Plaude superna, but is composed instead to the tonus peregrinus, an exceptional psalm tone using two reciting tones instead of one. The tonus peregrinus is usually associated with psalm No. 113, In exitu Israel, but here the psalm is No. 97, Cantate Domino. It is not surprising that du Fay should have used the modal ordering of the rhymed office, for we know he was familiar with the genre. In 1458 he was asked to determine the mode of an antiphon from such an office at the Cathedral of Besangon and the document recording his decision survives.
In a rhymed office for a saint, the texts often present a chronological resume of the saint's life. Carlier follows this procedure in the Recollectio. The texts of each service follow the progression of Mary's life. Only the two hymns repeat the themes of preceding texts beginning again with Mary's Conception. Perhaps this permitted their performance independent from the context of the feast. In the texts Carlier has made clever use of biblical quotations and patristic references. The variety of metrical and rhythmic schemes in the text permit a more flexible musical setting. It is likely that the plainchant for the mass is also by du Fay, although no musical sources from du Fay's time survive. The music again uses characteristic modal patterns, but is unique unlike the texts, which are borrowed from other liturgies and reworked.
The rituals of Marian services were among the most elaborate used in Cambrai Cathedral. The solemnity of the Recollectio, celebrated at duplex rank, is evident not only because most of the plainchant used was proper to the feast, but also because polyphony could be used. We have no evidence of polyphony from Cambrai composed specifically for the Recollectio, nor do we know which parts of the office and mass were so embellished, but several pieces from the early career of du Fay would have been appropriate in this context. His Alma Redemptoris Mater, one of his cantilena compositions emphasizing the top voice, was composed around 1430. His Magnificat quinti toni is a later piece, probably from the 1440's-the years when du Fay supervised liturgical reforms at Cambrai Cathedral. The Magnificat sets only the even-numbered stanzas as well as the first to polyphony. Soon after its initial celebration at Cambrai Cathedral, the Recollectio was introduced at other churches and abbeys in Cambrai, in Aosta, and throughout the Low Countries. It was always celebrated at high rank, and we know of one composer who created polyphony for the feast using one text of du Fay's cycle. Jacobus Cle-mens non Papa (between 1510-1515, about 1555-1556) used Carlier's texts to the ninth responsory and verse of the Recollectio for the prima and secunda pars of his polyphonic motet, Plaude superna Sion, to which no date has been assigned by scholars. Clemens' motets are generally not based on a cantus firmus, and the imitative texture of Plaude conceals no references or allusions to du Fay's music, but since this text was not used for any other liturgical feast, the motet can only have been intended for the Recollectio.
As in Cambrai Cathedral, when polyphony was needed at the Church of Our Lady in Conde, it was probably taken from existing music on some occasions. The sequence used during the Recollectio mass was Mittit ad sterilem, a parody of the older Mittit ad Virginem attributed to Petrus Abaelardus (1079-1142). Josquin Desprez (1440-1521) set Mittit ad Virginem to polyphony before 1504, and a simple contrafactum of this piece produces a polyphonic sequence proper to the Recollectio.
In the wake of Tridentine reforms, some churches tenaciously guarded their right to celebrate feasts of local importance-Cambrai, Aosta and others were able to sing du Fay's music into the 18th century, when the Recollectio was removed from their liturgies. In parts of the Low Countries, however, a new office was substituted, a compilation of texts and music from the earlier Marian liturgy. Throughout the new office, the modal ordering was eliminated, the ascending cadential formulae in du Fay's chant were replaced by descending formulae, the ambitus of the chant was restricted, and the texts were changed to emphasize only Mary's Assumption, the Marian feast preceding the Recollectio in the calendar. This "reformed" office is still celebrated at the Praemonstratensian abbey of Park near Louvain on the first Sunday in September. Although du Fay's plainchant did not survive as long as the feast it enhanced, it nevertheless outlived his polyphony. Du Fay's chant was sung at Cambrai Cathedral every August for nearly three hundred years. The painting of Our Lady of Grace, which inspired the devotion of Michael De Beringhen so long ago, is still carried in processions through the streets of Cambrai today.