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  Наименование CD :
   La Belle Homicide: Manuscrit Barbe

Год издания : 2003

Компания звукозаписи : Astree, Naive

Время звучания : 1:02:25

Код CD : E 8880 (8 22186 08880 7)

  Комментарий (рецензия) :

CD, стоящие на полке рядом : Classics (Reconstruction)      

Award wining soloist Rolf Lislevand using a eleven-course baroque lute gives a revelatory recital of unaccompanied seventeenth century French lute music on the Astree Naive label. Lislevand states in the booklet notes that probably never since the period when this lute music was written has such beautiful music been performed by so few people. His sentiments are pretty accurate and I cannot understand why such wonderful music has been ignored for so long. The popularity of the lute began to fade as the popularity of the violin increased and the lute became virtually obsolete with the advent of the pianoforte. The last great lute composers were J.S. Bach who significantly composed several lute suites and Handel who was utilising lute parts in his last opera Deidamia in 1741. These compositions are successfully written for the most part in the style of short dances and grouped together in sets or suites. The characteristic fashion of the time of labelling each piece with a poetic or descriptive designation is used although the titles bear little or no resemblance to their character and expression. 'La Belle Homicide' the title of this Astree Naive release uses the name given by composer Denis Gaultier 'de Paris' to one of his works which was one of the most popular of the period. Lislevand uses the manuscript of lute works from seven different French composers compiled by Barbe which is in itself a guarantee of the quality of the selected works. They are not arranged in any particular manner other than their common mode and tonality. Barbe was not afraid to join several of the pieces together by different composers into a more continuous work. To me, a non lute player, the seven French composers sound remarkably similar in style and owing, I guess, to the way that they are phrased I observed that it was virtually impossible for me to sense what notes were coming next. If the listener has not read the explanation in the booklet notes it can come as a shock to hear several seconds of animal, bird and reptile calls at the beginning of three of the pieces. We are informed by the soloist that the recording sessions were undertaken in Maguelone Abbey in France at night and the nature sounds were left to provide atmosphere to the proceedings. Furthermore, for reasons of spontaneity and realism, some of Lislevand's instrumental tuning and experimentation made during the recording sessions have not been edited out as can be heard on track 11 between points 1:44-1:52. In the informative yet rather high-brow booklet notes lutenist Lislevand discusses how he finds the term 'historical authentic performance practice' now to be burnt-out and states that a new term 'historical perception practice' has arisen from the ashes, which explains what a performer desires to attain, subscribing to a specific attitude and belief. Somehow this all seems rather pretentious! I must say just how much I love the packaging of this Astree Naive release, in particularly the imaginative art work. The lute playing is exceptionally fluent and the phrasing is perfectly judged with a sense of real involvement and empathy for the works. Through Rolf Lislevand's amazing playing of these excellent compositions and near perfect acoustics this release was a revelation to me and touched my emotions in a most unique way leaving me with a remarkable sense of spirituality that I have never previously experienced with any recording. The sound quality is in demonstration class and I could easily imagine being alongside the lutenist during the actual night recording session. I urge listeners who wouldn't normally purchase a recital of lute works to hear this superlative recording.

- Michael Cookson


========= from the cover ==========

Letter From A Lutenist

Somewhere in the countryside south of the northern Italian Alps, I am spending a few days alone with my lute. This is the precise reproduction of a historical situation. John Dowland, Vieux Gaultier, Charles Mouton or Thomas Mace - all of them enjoyed the most sacred musical moments alone with their lutes...

Over and over again I play the pieces of Gaultier, Dufaut, Mouton, until suddenly something very special, some wizardry, happens to the sound, and beauty emerges -like the Italian spring day itself:

Of all things the beginning was

on an April morn:

In spring the earth remembereth the day

that she was born.

And so I carry on a musical tradition, caught in its culminating moment: seventeenth-century French lute music, whose quality and perfection was inversely proportional to its diffusion. Rarely has any music been so inaccessible, so surrounded by mythology, legend, metaphysics and elitism, so essentially unpopular as French lute music of this period. Probably never since that time has such beautiful music been performed for so few people.

I learned to know the delicious manuscript compiled by Barbe. It inizialized and guided me through the tresors of french lute music, although I strongly beared in mind Gaultier's words in the preface to his own versions of his pieces:

Ainsi qu'elles [les pieces] ont este changees et defigurees, et ausy afin qu'elles ne fusentplus envoyees de cette maniere imparfaite dans les provinces, ny chez les estrangers, ou I'on ne les trouve a present que avec beaucoup de confusion, tant au regard de la mesure, des Tenues, des Etoufements et des silences...

(Since [the pieces] have been changed and disfigured, and also so that they may no longer be sent out in this imperfect manner to the provinces nor abroad, where they are to be found at present only in very confused form, with respect to the measure, the note lengths, the stifling of tone and the silences...)

Certainly, though, Gaultier is not referring here to Barbe's copies of his pieces. The Barbe manuscript is a veritable school of style, taste, instrumental technique and interpretation thanks to the exceptionally precise and very intelligent choice of information and fingerings it provides. A very thrilling experience. When I first approached the manuscript with my accumulated reactions to the information given, my expectations of the aesthetic of this style corresponded logically to an estimation based on my previous experience. Then, at first lazily and unwillingly, but soon inspired by the enthusiasm of discovery; I slowly read the manuscript through very closely, respecting every single bit of information given. An astonishing outcome: my learned ideas on voice-leading, phrasing, tenue des sons, tempi, ornamentation, articulation, accents and inequality were all very seriously put to the test simply by faithfully following Barbe's own precise indications. A lesson in music, a lesson in how to play an instrument and... a lesson in humility.

French art has a great predilection for aesthetics: colour, timbre, surface. Structure and spontaneity are left to the Germans and Italians. French music throughout history has tended to give priority to the cult and refinement of sound. French Baroque music adds to that the art of gesture. The predilection for gesture considered as a language is still present in the popular culture of the Latin countries of Europe, but had already reached its peak in the arts of dance, theatre and music in the seventeenth century. Within the perfect and closed form of the dance movements, the allemandes, courantes and sara-bandes, a highly minimalist melodic language develops a perfect rhetoric of musical gestures. Two short phrases summed up in a double that serves as a long concluding phrase: thesis, antithesis and synthesis.

The end of a century in European history has often seemed to be accompanied by a feeling of tiredness, decadence, faithlessness or unbelief. If we understand decadence as weariness of natural beauty, rejection of simple values and an uncompromising desire for stimulation, then the life of the court and the aristocracy in late seventeenth-century France surely bore a strong element of decadence. Their art was marked by their attitude to life. And anyone who is willing to look below the surface in his interpretations of the different stylistic features of seven-

teenth-century French instrumental music may find several close parallels between music, man and society:

Inequality - a stylistic device known from a great variety of musical traditions, adding refinement and rhythmic energy to a phrase, but also taking away its purity, its simplicity and directness, its positive character. Inequality is indirect statement, a distance taken, lack of faith, an element of indifference, of disillusion, the great cities of the twentieth century and their new jazz music or the weary, unwholesome lifestyle of the seventeenth-century French court...

Style brise - or a tempo rubato relationship between the bass and the melody, a refined rhythmic displacement: the points of gravity in the melody never come where they are expected, never correspond to the natural placement. The melody is unsinkable, flows as if on ice upon the immovable static establishment of pulse and order. A taste for avoiding the obvious.

Ornaments - second thoughts on the musical statement. Never arriving directly at the structural note in the phrase, using artificial suspensions to give interest to the predictable...

The accents produced by ornaments within the phrase also probably correspond to an interesting fact relating to the French language. As in most European music, vocal style has generally served as the model for instrumental music. Seventeenth-century French music took its models and inspiration from the Italians. Through its inspiration in the Italian language, vocal music had developed great dynamism and expressiveness from the tonic accent; a device difficult to import into France with the rest of the Italian style, since the French language is completely lacking in tonic accents! The solution that was found was to have ornaments substitute for the missing accents, giving dynamism, tension and room for sonority to the phrase.

The Phrasing - the particular crescendo-decrescendo phrasing, at a certain point going against the 'natural' structure of the phrase, retiring just a little before the phrase reaches its culminating point. Does this reflect a taste for avoiding the obvious? A culture that never states what is elementary? A playful avoidance of fulfilling expectations?

Les principals pieces du vieux Gaultiersont l'Immortelle; la Nompareille; le Tombeau de Mezangeau. Les Pieces les plus estimees de Denys Gaultier sont I'Homicide; le Canon; le Tombeau de Lenclos. Titon du Tillet

(The chief pieces of Gaultier the Elder are 'The Immortal'; 'The Nonpareil'; 'The Tomb of Mezangeau'. The most highly esteemed pieces of Denys Gaultier are 'The Murderess'; 'The Canon'; 'The Tomb of Lenclos'.)

Barbe gives his guarantee for the quality of the pieces chosen. Without any regard to the subsequent tradition of organising the music into suites following conventions of order and character, Barbe collects and orders his pieces as coups de cceur, respecting only their common mode or tonality. Nothing calls for performing the pieces in any specific larger form or structure, just as nothing unfortunately gives us any inkling of how and in what context this music was actually performed. The form and structure of the performance of a musical composition in any style or musical tradition has always depended on the music's function in its social context.

Anyone looking for concordances between the often very suggestive and poetic titles of the pieces and their musical character and expression will be disappointed. Obviously, the habit of relating the music to mythological names or dedicating pieces to actual living personalities, even characterising adjectives tells us more about the period than about the music itself. One of the great enemies of French lute music, Ernst Gottlieb Baron, writes in 1727: In regard to the lute, the French have not accomplished much in particular. Their most famous masters are Gaultier, who is considered to be one of the earliest, although he wrote pieces for our present-day lute; Mouton and Dufaut who followed their own genius and neglected the cantabile element; Gallot who gave his pieces such strange names that one must ponder hard how they connect with the music... One seldom finds pieces that do not bear the name of a gallant lady after whom, if it pleased her, the piece was named... The name should always fit the music, and where the outside reference is too far-fetched it seems to me to be charlatanry and affection...

Nevertheless, some of the titles do relate to the piece in question. The tombeau for Mezangeau is an epitaph in the purely traditional sense, but also a poetic recollection of a great lutenist's life. Gaultier looks for the most emblematic theme of sorrow in the lute repertory. He searches for an archetypal expression of nostalgia and melancholy: Dowland's tears. The Lachrimae theme of the falling fourth. Almost half a century after this unique statement of Dowland's, its force still remains unquestioned. The tombeau is constructed throughout on the interval of a descending fourth. In the middle of the first part the piece expires into eternal chords of D major and G major. Then a pulse of life still continues. In the second half the spirit expires, the lute cadences in its very lowest register. Imme-diately afterwards the spirit re-emerges two octaves higher, then cadence and conclusion: the last notes, the lowest and the highest sounds of the instrument, earth and heaven?

La belle homicide (or simply L'homicide) was one of the most beloved pieces of the period, found in a large number of different copies. The homicide in question is indeed a very sweet one. We recall the words from a Dowland song: to see/to touch/to kiss/to die. This Grace procures the metaphorical death of the late Renaissance: the sublime ecstasy of physical love. In Gaultier's Rhetorique des Dieux, he adds the following text under the tablature of the L'homicide:

Cette Belle par ses charmes donne la mort a quiconque qui la void et qui I'entend. Mais cette Mort est en cecy dissemblable des morts ordinaires, qu'elle est le commencement de la vie au lieu d'en etre la fin.

(This Fair Lady, by her charms, brings death to all who see or hear her. But that Death is unlike ordinary deaths in that it is the beginning of life, instead of marking its end.)

When the pieces not bearing mythological names or references have titles like Les Larmes, L'Adieu, Le Depart, La Douloureuse, Le Malheureux, we may easily be misled about the 'spirit of the age' in seventeenth-century France. Just like the period of one of the greatest lutenists of all time, John Dowland, the era of the French lute school has its own highly refined language expressing concepts of its age for us to decode. When we encounter the melancholia of the Elizabethan court or the tears of abandonment in seventeenth-century France, it may seem that the dark Middle Ages were far brighter than the French baroque. Although conditions of life for the majority of the population in the time of Dowland or Gaultier surely were very harsh, I don't believe that the number of references to melancholy, sadness, abandonment and sorrow actually reflect the basic temper of life for those who used these terms frequently. Sometimes words and terms run faster than our actual thoughts and emotions and anticipate our minds. Sometimes the sound and taste of a statement fascinates more than its meaning defines. Sometimes an apparently innocent term provides a key, a mode d'emploi, for a whole generation's vision of life. Melancholia for the children of late Elizabethan England. Cool for the spirit of the late twentieth century... an attitude, a lifestyle...

Very few players in the seventeenth century were what we today would call professionals. The skill and level of playing were unrelated to any social or professional status. Many owed their fame to other talents:

On a fort mesdit du cardinal de Richelieu, qui estoit bel homme, avec la Reyne-mere. Durant cette galanterie, elle s'avisa, quoyqu'elle eust desja de I'age, de se remettre ajouer du luth; elle en avoitjoue un peu autrefois. Elle prend Gaultier chez elle: voila tout le monde ajouer du luth. Le Cardinal en apprit aussy, et c 'estoit la chose la plus ridicule qui se pust imaginer, que de le voirprendre des legons de Gaultier.

- Tallemant des Reaux

(There has been much malicious gossip about the Cardinal de Richelieu, who was a fine figure of a man, and the Queen Mother. Whilst this affair was going on, she decided, although she was already somewhat old, to take up lute-playing once more; she had formerly touched the instrument a little. She had Gaultier come to her: and now the whole company began to play the lute. The Cardinal learnt it too, and it was the most absurd thing imaginable to see him taking lessons from Gaultier.)

Only a generation later, Ernst Gottlieb Baron gives the thumbs-down to the whole age of French lute music:

With regard to the characteristics of the French, they too often change voices, so that one cannot even recognise the melody, and, as already mentioned, there is little cantabile to be found, particularly because they consider it very fashionable to brush back chords on the lute with the right hand, just as on the guitar; a constant hopping around is required to give spirit and life to the pieces.

We need not comment on Baron's own music to observe how quickly fashions change...

Some of the spontaneous moments of playing around with the sound of the instrument, 'preluding' to find the atmosphere, were put on the recording to give the listener a more realistic feeling of participating in a moment of intimacy. Tuning and trying out the instrument's colours was and is still considered a part of the musical performance in geographical or temporal musical styles - and not a system error of the nineteenth-century concert hall ritual...

The music was recorded at night in the magnificent 12th century cathedral of Magelone in the south of France. It is situated at the end of a long sea promenade and lies like an oasis in the Mediterranean sea. The April night was full of sounds of birds and animals wanting to join the music and in some moments they did so. We thought this provided atmosphere and poetry to the record and so we did not do any effort to eliminate the night songs of French frogs, ducks and birds...

an update on performance practice

I recreated for myself this authentic and, historically, perfectly correct performance situation: a few days alone in the countryside with my lute. 21th century's technique of recording will allow you to share this experience with me.

The term 'historically authentic performance practice' has been used as a conviction, as an argument, as an authority, as an excuse and eventually as a convenient sales label or classification. Through this abuse the term has become burned out, losing its strength and its precision.

From the ashes a new term arises: Historical Perception Practice -a word for what a performer desires to attain, subscribing to a specific attitude and belief. This term excludes all aspects of research and knowledge not contributing to the achievement of our specific goal as performers of non-contemporary repertoire: to offer modern listeners an emotional and spiritual experience as close as possible to the late composer's intentions.

Because the state of the heart and mind of man changes, a listener in Gaultier's time and a listener of the twenty-first century would perceive the same musical information in a completely different way. Man and the spirit of the age he lives in have changed, right down to the most banal but still important details, such as the volume and energy levels we are used to in everyday life, the notion of time and speed. So it comes about that the most thorough and faithful perform-ance of a piece of 'historical' music may not make use of the stylistic or physical means the composer had at his disposal, but will aim to give the listener the emotional and spiritual experience he wanted to communicate.

It is probable, although not imperative nor a virtue in itself, that the means available to the composer will be used to a large extent in this process of reconstruction.

One of the most neglected aspects of our efforts in historical perception practice is the consciousness and respect of the social conditions in which a work was performed. Very few other stylistic aspects of a performance will condition the listening experience as strongly as the social context in which the music was reproduced. Yet traditionally this aspect has been reduced to the status of biographical or historical anecdote with scanty importance for the performing situation, or with peripheral importance when the composer's work is being evaluated.

I once read a notice to the listener on the back of a lute recording: 'The listener is advised to reduce the volume when reproducing this record in order to experience the sound level of a natural performance on the instrument.' Surely a considered piece of advice, tendered in all good faith.

But were these the conditions in which music for lute was actually experienced? Thomas Mace sank his teeth into the edge of the lute in order to feel the sound and vibrations of the music more strongly. Titon du Tillet was placed in an antique armchair in front of Mr Falco, while the lutenist performed his pieces with tears and sweat dropping onto the lute. Gaultier played his newly composed pieces in a Parisian bourgeois dwelling for a handful of Humanist scholars smoking pipes and drinking red wine... Sainte-Colombe composed and performed his viol pieces in an isolated wooden cottage of four square metres, with his occasional public, uncomfortably seated under the cottage, a fellow viol-player as talented as he was jealous... Robert de Visee played the lute and guitar for Louis XIV during his afternoon strolls through the corridors and gardens of Versailles, walking two steps behind the King and his entourage. (The very first incarnation of the 'Walkman', later to become so popular?) Eventually de Visee enjoyed the questionable privilege of playing in the royal bedchamber to the select but probably inattentive audience of a named 'mademoiselle' and the King himself.

Music, like most other forms of human expression, needs intimacy when it wants to communicate emotion. All ancient or native musical traditions have taken this into account. The conditions for experiencing structured sound have always been arranged to permit a close, physical notion of sound.

The history of western written music shows how instruments and their playing technique have developed in order to preserve this sonic energy for an ever-larger public, until a limit is reached and the concept collapses. The reaction of Romanticism to this collapse was rather curious: on one hand this situation deeply conditioned the creative process, on the other hand, intimacy and physical contact, the real emotional experience, were renounced, thus reducing the performance of music to something between a bourgeois ritual and a testimony of late European culture! Why was this physical part of the musical experience so incommodious for nineteenth-century Europe, and why did rhythm lose its place to colour, melody and harmony, to be reduced eventually to an organising element?

In modern popular music, any style of rock, rap, pop or technobased music, the need for intimacy and physical contact with the public is an unquestioned prequisite. But resolving this problem led to no compromise with commercial requirements. Through modern technology, 20,000 people in a football stadium, supported by amplification and video projection, are still as close to the sound and the musicians as if they had their noses in the guitar's sound-holes and their teeth and stomachs transmitting the sound to their bodies. A collective experience of intimacy.

European Union controls threaten to eliminate several types of traditional French cheese because their production methods do not conform to modern standards of hygiene. In what will soon be a highly globalised twenty-first century where we aspire to experience genuine, local, craftsman-created tastes for our souls and senses, give a moment of attention to this unique moment in artistic history, created by a few, tasted by a few, immortalised by some faithful scholars and now offered to yourself and a couple of your friends for an intimate evening, accompanied by some cheese and wine... (A recommendation: don't put the volume down too low!)

- Rolf Lislevand

Lago di Garda, Italy; April 2003 (text revision and translation of French quotations: Charles Johnston)

  Соисполнители :

Charles Bocquet (Composer)
Charles Mouton (Composer)
Ennemond Gaultier (Composer)
Francois Dufault (Composer)
Jacques Gallot (Composer)
Nicolas Dubut (Composer)
Rene Mesangeau (Composer)

№ п/п

Наименование трека



   1 Prelude For Lute In D Minor         0:01:16 Ennemond Gaultier
   2 Canaris In D Minor         0:02:15 Ennemond Gaultier - From Pieces De Luth En Musique, 1680
   3 L'immortelle Du Vieux Gaultier Courante In D Minor         0:01:27 -"-
   4 Carillon         0:01:32 Ennemond Gaultier
   5 Sarabande For Lute In D Minor         0:02:12 Rene Mesangeau
   6 La Superbe, For Lute In D Minor         0:01:48 Francois Dufaut
   7 La Poste, For Lute         0:02:03 Ennemond Gaultier
   8 La Montespan, For Lute In A Minor         0:02:14 Jacques Gallot
   9 Prelude For Lute In A Minor         0:01:14 Ennemond Gaultier
   10 Courante For Lute 'La Belle Homicide'         0:03:31 Rolf Lislevand / Denis Gaultier
   11 La Psyche, For Lute In A Minor         0:04:00 Jacques Gallot
   12 Canaris Les Castagnettes, For Lute In A Minor         0:03:13 -"-
   13 La Princesse, Sarabande For Lute         0:02:05 Rolf Lislevand / Charles Mouton
   14 Chaconne In C Minor (Boquet) / Dialogue In C Minor (Gallot) / Sarabande In C (Dubut) For Lute         0:06:54 Various Composers
   15 La Mallassis, Sarabande For Lute         0:03:08 Charles Mouton
   16 La Lucrece, For Lute In F Sharp Minor         0:03:11 Jacques Gallot
   17 Gavotte For Lute In F Sharp Minor         0:00:57 Charles Mouton
   18 Le Mouton, For Lute In F Sharp Minor         0:01:46 -"-
   19 Tombeau De Mezangeau, For Lute In D Minor         0:04:09 -"-
   20 Chaconne In G Major (Mouton) / Le Perier In G Minor (Mouton) - La Douce In E Minor (Gaultier) For Lute         0:09:05 Various Composers
   21 Depart / Double, For Lute In F Sharp Minor         0:04:24 Charles Mouton


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