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Sweelinck: The Secular Vocal Works / Harry Van Der Kamp, Gesualdo Consort


Release Date: 05/26/2009 
Label:  Glossa   Catalog #: 922401   Spars Code: n/a 
Composer:  Jan Pieterszoon Sweelinck
Conductor:  Harry Van der Kamp
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Gesualdo Consort
Number of Discs: 3 
Recorded in: Stereo 
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Notes and Editorial Reviews



SWEELINCK Secular Vocal Works Harry van der Kamp, cond; Gesualdo Consort Amsterdam (period instruments) GLOSSA 922401 (3 CDs: 202:40 Text and Translation)


Jan Pietszoon Sweelinck (1562–1621) has been called “the maker of organists” and “the man who taught Northern Europe to play the organ.” During his lifetime, his influence as an organist, teacher, and composer stretched from England to Russia and from Italy to Scandinavia. Musicians flocked to Amsterdam to study with him; he Read more counted among his students Jacob Praetorius, Heinrich Scheidemann, Samuel and Gottfried Scheidt, and Mattias Weckmann. Through these musicians, Sweelinck’s influence eventually found its way to the music of Handel and Bach; Bach owes his contrapuntal style to the model established by Sweelinck. Another measure of Sweelinck’s importance can be found in the fact that several of his keyboard works were included in the Fitzwilliam Virginal Book , one of the few non-English composers so honored. When Sweelinck died of unknown causes at the relatively young age of 59, the English were evidently greatly moved—John Bull composed a funeral pavane using one of Sweelinck’s themes.


Sweelinck’s vocal music is far less well known—and recorded—than his keyboard music. I admit to having heard very little of it over the years. It is therefore doubly surprising to discover that a project is underway in the Netherlands to record all of Sweelinck’s vocal music—dubbed The Sweelinck Monument—and that the secular vocal music is the first item on the agenda. The ubiquitous Dutch bass-baritone Harry van der Kamp is the driving force behind the project, as well as its artistic director. Here, he has put together an excellent group of young Dutch singers and instrumentalists, and has contracted with the Spanish label Glossa to produce and market the recordings.


The present set is divided between French-language chansons (CD 1), Italian “rimes” (i.e., rhymes) and madrigals (CD 2), and French rhymes and canons (CD 3), with four works for solo lute included on CD 3. Unlike the cultural divide that existed during the first half of the 16th century, the compositional styles of chanson and madrigal drifted towards each other in the second half. Often, the only real difference in Sweelinck’s œuvre between the two types is the language. This reflects both the growing international trend in music and the hegemony of the Italian madrigal during this period. Sweelinck’s secular vocal music does not break any new ground and, in fact, borrows heavily from the idiom established by his predecessors. As Gustave Reese said of Lassus (Sweelinck’s older contemporary and compatriot), “He played no outstanding role in the historical evolution of the type, but his madrigals are often of surpassing beauty.” I think the same could be said of Sweelinck.


The music ranges from three parts to as many as six, and the performances here vary from all vocal to an admixture of voices and instruments, which can include any number of viols, recorders, and lute. Highlights of the French disc include Sweelinck’s setting of Suzanne un jour , arguably the famous tune of the time, and the four-part Tes beaux yeus, a moving lament. On the Italian disc, several alternate versions of the same text are included alongside the Sweelinck version for comparison, such as Andrea Gabrieli’s Dolcissimo ben mio , Marenzio’s Liquide perle amor , and Ferrabosco’s Io mi son giovinetta , a rather nice touch. Altogether, this is a very pleasant program of late-Renaissance vocal music, exquisitely performed and recorded. I look forward to hearing these performers again when the sacred music is issued. The accompanying booklet contains extensive notes and complete texts and translations. While I might have wished for a “compilation disc” of Sweelinck’s chansons and madrigals (rather than the whole shebang), it can nevertheless be unhesitatingly recommended to any lover of late-Renaissance vocal music.


FANFARE: Christopher Brodersen
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Works on This Recording

1. Tu as tous seul, Jan by Jan Pieterszoon Sweelinck
Conductor:  Harry Van der Kamp
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Gesualdo Consort
Period: Renaissance 
Written: by 1597; Netherlands (Holland 
2. Pourquoy tournez vous voz yeux gratieus de moy by Jan Pieterszoon Sweelinck
Conductor:  Harry Van der Kamp
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Gesualdo Consort
Period: Renaissance 
3. Marchans qui traversez by Jan Pieterszoon Sweelinck
Conductor:  Harry Van der Kamp
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Gesualdo Consort
Period: Renaissance 
Written: by 1612; Netherlands (Holland 
4. Tes beaux yeux causent mon amour by Jan Pieterszoon Sweelinck
Conductor:  Harry Van der Kamp
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Gesualdo Consort
Period: Renaissance 
Written: by 1597; Netherlands (Holland 
5. Vostre amour est vagabonde by Jan Pieterszoon Sweelinck
Conductor:  Harry Van der Kamp
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Gesualdo Consort
Period: Renaissance 
Written: by 1594; Netherlands (Holland 
6. Yeux, qui guidez mon ame en l'amoureux voyage by Jan Pieterszoon Sweelinck
Conductor:  Harry Van der Kamp
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Gesualdo Consort
Period: Renaissance 
Written: 1612; Netherlands (Holland 

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