Ensemble Clément - Josquin Desprez: Septiesme livre de chansons - American Record Guide

This program of Josquin’s chansons derives mostly from Tylman Susato’s Seventh Book of 24 Chansons in 5 and 6 Parts, published in Antwerp in 1545. There are two types of songs here, according to Isabelle His: laments and popular songs. The final work on the program is the famous `Nymphes des Bois’, a setting of Molinet’s lament on the death of Johannes Ockeghem in the form of a chanson-motet. Composing for ensembles as large as this gave Josquin the opportunity to explore various compositional procedures—the declamatory style of chordal writing, the sinuous style of canons, and sometimes the two together. The results are highly varied and engaging, especially in the hands of a seasoned ensemble. Isabelle His notes Susato’s Seventh Book of Chansons appeared in a series of anthologies that advertise the possibility of playing the songs on instruments as well as singing them. So the ensemble plays some of Josquin’s chansons. For example, `Mille Regretz’ appears twice on the program in settings by Luis de Narvaez, played by Yoann Moulin on spinet, and by Hans Newsidler, played on the lute by Eric Bellocq. I sense Ensemble Clement Janequin pushing back against the tradition of singing all Renaissance music with the same “beautiful” timbre. Jesse Rodin and Cut Circle demonstrated on their recent recording of the complete chansons of Johannes Ockeghem (Musique en Wallonie 1995; Jan/Feb 2021) that a wider range of emotions could be coaxed from the repertory by adopting a varied timbre, so that laments would make you weep while funny songs would make you laugh. This group does rely on light textures, carefully crafted phrasing, and precise intonation, but it is not their approach to every song. In their performance of “popular” songs like `Allegez Moy Dulce Plaisant Brunette’ and `Petite Camusette a la Mort Mavez Mis’ they adopt a singing style that is louder, less refined, and with wobbly intonation, which might provoke laughter. It is an altogether delightful performance. Texts and notes are in English.

American Record Guide
01 April 2021