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Agricola: Chansons / Michael Chance, Fretwork


Release Date: 08/08/2006 
Label:  Harmonia Mundi   Catalog #: 907421   Spars Code: n/a 
Composer:  Alexander AgricolaFabrice FitchNinot le PetitPierre de La Rue
Performer:  Michael Chance
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Fretwork
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
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Notes and Editorial Reviews

Fretwork take hold of this frequently unpredictable music producing performances of exuberance.

Alexander Agricola, the quincentenary of whose death falls this year, is not over-represented in the catalogue. Important recordings such as those by the Ferrara Ensemble under Crawford Young (DI-11\4) and the Las 14uelgas Ensemble under Paul van Nevel (Sony) are not currently available. This disc, then, is very welcome, and if you have the Young or van Nevel issues, you need not worry about overlap, for it is minimal.

Fretwork take hold of this frequently unpredictable music (all but one of the pieces are performed in new editions by composer and Gramophone contributor Fabrice Fitch) with confidence. They
Read more produce performances of exuberance, proving that what a contemporary of the composer called his "bizarre and crazy manner", as Fitch notes, can either be subverted or assumed to be, in fact, less crazy than it might appear and give impressive musical results. The chansons also prove that Agricola was a fine melodist: his contrapuntal strangeness elsewhere (perhaps best shown here in the freely composed Pater meus agricola eat) is probably no greater than that of Ockeghem or Obrecht, both of whose counterpoint is frequently thoroughly eccentric.

A unique feature of this anthology is that it includes two parts from Fitch's cycle of Agricologies, a work in several movements for Fretwork and the Kreutzer String Quartet. The material for the work comes from Agricola, or material used by him, and Fitch makes a point of working, in the first, with his melodic quirkiness and, in the very brief second, with his counterpoint, a remarkable texture being produced by the performers tapping on the strings rather than plucking or bowing. An impressive disc on all counts, which should do much to restore Agricola's obscure profile to the light.

Ivan Moody, Gramophone [11/2006]

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As the anniversary of the death of Alexander Agricola (c. 1456-1506) approached, the neglected composer began to enjoy some attention on disc with a collection of songs on Naxos, an oddly all-encompassing survey of his output, and two pairs of masses. Now, just in time, the date has been marked by a different collection of songs. Most of these 18 songs are textless polyphonic arrangements of existing songs, the sort of thing that Agricola frequently made over and over. We hear his three settings of Binchois' Comme femme desconfort, his five settings of Hayne van Ghizeghem's De tous biens pleine, and his three settings of Ockeghem's D'un altre amer. The variety that Agricola puts into these settings is remarkable. The only duplications from the Naxos disc are three of the Hayne settings (also textless) and a six-voice setting of Busnois' Fortuna desperata (originally for three voices). To carry the borrowing a step further, one of Agricola's most famous songs, Si dedero, is represented in parodies by two of his contemporaries, and Fabrice Fitch has composed a cycle based on Agricola's music, two parts of which are included here. While most of the 18 songs on Naxos are sung, Michael Chance sings only four songs here, spaced evenly through the program and offering some of the most interesting listening.

The performances are fine and the digipack is an elegant presentation. The composer, so highly regarded in his own time, deserves more for his anniversary, but this will suffice for now. More than sufficient, it is a delightful hour and a quarter of music.

FANFARE: J. F. Weber
Read less

Works on This Recording

1.
De tous biens plaine by Alexander Agricola
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Fretwork
Period: Renaissance 
Written: 15th Century 
2.
De tous bein plaine II a 3 by Alexander Agricola
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Fretwork
Period: Renaissance 
3.
De tous bien plaine III by Alexander Agricola
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Fretwork
Period: Renaissance 
Written: 15th Century 
4.
De tous bien plaine IV by Alexander Agricola
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Fretwork
Period: Renaissance 
Written: 15th Century 
5.
De tous bien plaine V by Alexander Agricola
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Fretwork
Period: Renaissance 
Written: 15th Century 
6.
D'ung aultre amer I by Alexander Agricola
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Fretwork
Period: Renaissance 
Written: 15th Century 
7.
D'ung aultre amer II by Alexander Agricola
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Fretwork
Period: Renaissance 
Written: 15th Century 
8.
D'ung aultre amer III by Alexander Agricola
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Fretwork
Period: Renaissance 
9.
Comme femme I à 4 by Alexander Agricola
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Fretwork
Period: Renaissance 
Written: 15th Century 
10.
Comme femme II à 3 by Alexander Agricola
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Fretwork
Period: Renaissance 
Written: 15th Century 
11.
Comme femme III à 2 by Alexander Agricola
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Fretwork
Period: Renaissance 
Written: 15th Century 
12.
En actendant by Alexander Agricola
Performer:  Michael Chance (Countertenor)
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Fretwork
Period: Renaissance 
Written: 15th Century 
13.
Fortuna desperata by Alexander Agricola
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Fretwork
Period: Renaissance 
Written: 15th Century 
14.
Je n'ay dueil by Alexander Agricola
Performer:  Michael Chance (Countertenor)
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Fretwork
Period: Renaissance 
Written: 15th Century 
15.
Pater meus agricola est by Alexander Agricola
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Fretwork
Period: Renaissance 
Written: 15th Century 
16.
Se je fais bien by Alexander Agricola
Performer:  Michael Chance (Countertenor)
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Fretwork
Period: Renaissance 
Written: 15th Century 
17.
Tout à part moy I by Alexander Agricola
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Fretwork
Period: Renaissance 
Written: 15th Century 
18.
Vostre hault bruit by Alexander Agricola
Performer:  Michael Chance (Countertenor)
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Fretwork
Period: Renaissance 
Written: 15th Century 
19.
Agricola I - Comme femme by Fabrice Fitch
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Fretwork
Period: 20th Century 
20.
De tous biens plaine by Alexander Agricola
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Fretwork
Period: Renaissance 
Written: 15th Century 
21.
Si bibero by Ninot le Petit
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Fretwork
Period: Renaissance 
22.
Si dormiero by Pierre de La Rue
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Fretwork
Period: Renaissance 
Written: Netherlands 

Featured Sound Samples

Comme femme desconfortée I à 4 (Agricola)
Si dormiero (La Rue)

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