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LES PLAISIRS DU PALAIS • Dominique Visse, cond; Ens Clément Janequin • HARMONIA MUNDI 5908224 (2 CDs: 119:50 Text and Translation)
Music by Clemens non papa, sermisy, gombert, susato, certon, baston, heurteur, hesdin, anon, appenzeller, dambert, barbion, millantier, roy, decapella
This is a bound book, no larger than a standard CD jewel box, a deluxe format we have seen from several labels recently, but it contains twoRead more reissued discs. The package repeats the title of 901729 (not reviewed here), while the other disc is “Une fête chez Rabelais,” 901453 (18:4). The latter, placed first, continued a pattern established by this ensemble of concentrating on 16th-century secular song. The focus of the program is Gargantua and Pantagruel by François Rabelais (c. 1494–1553), whose writings were humanistic but satirical and licentious. He knew music, listing composers and song titles at length. These songs illustrate such aspects of his writings as excesses of food and drink, scatological humor, and irreverence. He was certainly no different from many others of his time. The performances are raucous where appropriate but always stylish. The texts are reproduced from the original booklet, which offered as much translation as decency would allow. My original recommendation was to sit back and enjoy the music if the texts were offensive, but the format of the present book encourages more attention to the content.
The other disc was subtitled “Drinking Songs of the Renaissance,” here modified to “Drinking (and eating) songs at the table of Gargantua” to link it to the other disc. The content of the songs, while parallel to the other program, is milder, and nothing is untranslatable here. It seems odd to include toward the end a lament for Josquin des Prez by Benedictus Appenzeller, modeled on Josquin’s elegy for Ockeghem. The milder content of the program is best suggested by the opening and closing songs, “Prayer before meals” and “Prayer before meals” (the French correctly says “after”). The notes focus on the perceived contrast between Netherlandish and Parisian song style, asserting that there is more overlap than usually understood. The writer cites several examples, but overlooks the best one of all, Nicolas Gombert’s La chasse, a model of Parisian style and Flemish sound. This piece and the Appenzeller lament are the two longest selections on the disc. It’s unfortunate that this disc was not reviewed here earlier, for it is a climactic point in the ensemble’s 20-year traversal (at the time it was made) of this repertoire.
There is more: half of the book is given over to recipes, many dating to the 14th century. No comment is added, but each recipe faces a still-life painting of the period that illustrates the dish. This package is quite similar to another one issued by the same label, “Food, Wine & Song” by the Orlando Consort (25:6). These beautiful deluxe releases are really very hard to resist.
Branle de Champaigneby Adrian Le Roy Performer:
Eric Bellocq (Lute)
Period: Renaissance Written: 16th Century; France Notes: This selection shares the same track and timing with "Alemande du pied de cheval" and "Bransle de Poictou."
Alemande du pied de chevalby Adrian Le Roy Performer:
Eric Bellocq (Lute)
Period: Renaissance Written: 16th Century; France Notes: This selection shares the same track and timing with "Bransle de Champaigne" and "Bransle de Poictou."
Branle de Poictouby Adrian Le Roy Performer:
Eric Bellocq (Lute)
Period: Renaissance Written: by 1568; France Notes: This selection shares the same track and timing with "Bransle de Champaigne" and "Alemande du pied de cheval."
En tour la feste Saint Martinby Decapella Conductor:
Clément Janequin Ensemble
Period: Renaissance Written: 16th Century Language: French
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