Notes and Editorial Reviews
Björn Schmelzer, dir; Graindelavoix
GLOSSA 32103 (77:08
Text and Translation)
HILDEGARD, GOSWIN DE BOSSUT, HADEWIJCH VAN BRABANT, HENRI III DE BRABANT, TASSIN, CARASAUS, PERRIN D’AGINCOURT, JEHAN ERART
Sacred and secular vocal compositions from 13th-century Brabant, when Leuven was the residence of the dukes of Brabant (among them Henri III, named in the headnote), make up a program of some
of the more obscure music that I have encountered lately. The well-known Hildegard of Bingen, in the only familiar piece on the disc, leads off because one of the two manuscripts of her music is kept nearby at Dendermonde. The ensemble, which previously gave us a disc of Ockeghem (30: 1) and another of Binchois (31:1), recorded the music at the Dominican church in Leuven, the oldest Gothic building in the city, almost as old as the Sainte Chapelle in Paris. Like that famous chapel, it is built on an island in the center of the city, similar to L’Île de la Cité. In an earlier review, I called Björn Schmelzer an intellectual, a judgment reinforced by the fascinating notes that he provides for this disc, full of background on medieval Leuven. He traces the marriages between the Brabant ducal family and the house of France, showing that the Montpellier codex of motets (H 196) owes much to Marie de Brabant, the daughter of our composer Henri III, who married Philip III of France. Tassin (whose “chose tassin” is found as the tenor of three motets in the codex) was a minstrel to Marie’s brother, Jan I of Brabant, and later to her son, Philip IV of France. Perrin d’Agincourt and Jehan Erart are known slightly on records, but some of these names must be making their debuts. Hadewijch was a mystic in religious life, and it may be too much to call her a composer if she merely set her song texts to existing melodies, as in the three examples heard here.
This is a rarity that will appeal to medievalists eager to broaden their collections. The title of the disc comes from a treatise addressed to the duke of Brabant on the power of love, a word taken in a variety of senses by monks, mystics, and minstrels. These are the personalities exhibited through his program. I look forward to more stimulating expositions from this brilliant musician.
FANFARE: J. F. Weber
Works on This Recording
Work(s) by Hildegard of Bingen
Work(s) by Various
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