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COURTLY MUSIC OF THE RENAISSANCE
ROZMBERK CONSORT

 

F10126   [8595017412622]   released 9/2004   www.rozmberska.cz

play album Evropská dvorská hudba - Rožmberská kapela 58:07 149Kč
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1. Now is the month of maying 0:55 15Kč
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2. I come again 2:08 15Kč
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3. I smile to see how you devise 2:13 15Kč
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4. Maiden-Lane 1:13 15Kč
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5. Galiarde 1:38 15Kč
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6. Grimstock 1:38 15Kč
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7. Bransle simple 2:01 15Kč
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8. Pavana 1:54 15Kč
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9. Bransley gay 1:10 15Kč
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10. Bransle l´Official 1:49 15Kč
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11. Bransle X 1:33 15Kč
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12. Bouffons 1:45 15Kč
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13. Clara 1:49 15Kč
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14. Canarie 1:13 15Kč
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15. Sophia 1:30 15Kč
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16. Bransle 1:49 15Kč
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17. Bacco, bacco 1:36 15Kč
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18. Fantasia 1:34 15Kč
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19. Io non compro piú speranza 1:46 15Kč
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20. La Montagnura 2:22 15Kč
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21. Paséisme aor´ allá serrana 1:48 15Kč
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22. De ser mal casáda 2:26 15Kč
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23. Villancico 2:37 15Kč
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24. Fata la parte 3:12 15Kč
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25. Si habrá en este baldrés? 2:27 15Kč
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26. A lieta vieta 2:11 15Kč
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27. Balleti umori 1:32 15Kč
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28. Tanz 1:18 15Kč
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29. Von nothen ist 1:38 15Kč
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30. Mascharada 1:26 15Kč
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31. Tanz und nach tanz 1:28 15Kč
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32. Bergamasca 2:03 15Kč
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The Court of Queen Elizabeth at London
The Court of the French King at Paris
Music consorts of the German nobility
Italian courtly music
Music of the Golden Age in Spain
Renaissance music in the Bohemian Lands

ROZMBERK CONSORT directed by Mario Mesany

Pavel Polášek: recorders, gemshorns, crumhorns, bombard, wind-chest shawm, bladder pipe, percussion
Šárka Langerová-Hůlová: viola da braccio, vocal, trumpet marine, scheitholt
Libor Žídek: vocal, crumhorns
Eva Kaniaková: kvinton, saracenská loutna, kamzičí a křivé rohy
Mario Mesany: recorders, gemshorns, crumhorns, wind-chest shawm, bladder pipe, hurdy-gurdy, bag-pipe, xylophone
Zbyňka Šolcová: harp, scheitholt, regal, bells, percussion

and guests:
Věra Mikulášková: viola da gamba
František Pok: cornett, bag-pipe
Michal Verner: recorders, gemshorns, crumhorns, curtal

In the world of the Renaissance the court of the nobleman or noblewoman was an oasis where all kinds of art, similarly to plants, flourished. And music was among the flora that received special care. It included not only roses (for their fragrance and decorativeness), but also rosemary (for adding spice both to everyday life and to special occasions). And there was also mandrake, a medicament for the oddest of maladies. Although music was an integral part of the court ecosystem, the degree to which it was represented at noble seats varied. That depended not only on the size of the oasis (the extent of the nobleman or noblewoman’s demesnes) and sufficient moisture (the fullness of his or her coffers), but also on the fertility of the soil (the abundance of composers and musicians). In many respects it then depended on the education and skill of the gardener (the high-born gentleman or gentlewoman). That is why even a small noble court was sometimes musically richer and more fertile than an imperial seat. After all, the required reading of every courtier was Il libro del cortegiano (1528) by Baldesar Castiglione (1478–1529), in which one of the participants in a lofty discussion says (here, in the first English translation, by Sir Thomas Hoby, 1561): “My Lordes (quoth he) you must thinke I am not pleased with the Courtier if he be not also a musitien, and beside his understanding and couning upon the booke, have skill in lyke maner on sudrye instruments. For yf we waie it well, there is no ease of the labours and medicines of feeble mindes to be founde more honeste and more praise worthye in time of leyser then it. And princypally in Courtes [...].” Or, in modern English: “Gentlemen, you must know that I am not satisfied with our Courtier unless he be also a musician, and unless, besides understanding and being able to read music, he can play various instruments, particularly at court.” (trans. by Charles S. Singleton, Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1959.)
     It is important to recall that this is one of the most translated sixteenth-century works of literature, and its ideas therefore spread also in the lands from which the Rožmberk Consort brings us several bunches of herbs to refresh the mind and console the heart.
     The preferred instrument of Elizabethan England may have been the lute. Queen Elizabeth I (1558–1603) was herself an accomplished lutenist, and had a portrait made of herself playing it. She is famous for having surrounded herself with not one but several virtuosos of this subtle instrument. Among them was Anthony Holborne (?1545–1602), known also as the composer of refined five-part dances, which were published in London in 1599. It is not by chance that it was to him that John Dowland (1562/63–1626), undoubtedly among the most famous lutenists of the day, dedicated one of his songs. Probably owing to his being a Roman Catholic, Dowland was not among Her Majesty’s favourites, and consequently one of his first employments at court was, though not for long, with the Duke of Brunswick-Lüneburg at Wolfenbüttel. It was here that the kapellmeister-composer Michael Praetorius (?1571–1621) lived and worked. Although he was not employed at court, his Terpsichore is a collection comprised solely of court dances and is one of the richest anthologies of music for dance of the time. The compositions it contains, arranged mostly by Praetorius himself, come from places throughout Europe. The introductory group consists of the somewhat rustic French circle dances called branles, once highly popular at court.
      Its name (a French word meaning to move from side to side) suggests its pendulum-like character; not only its semi-popular nature but also its antiquatedness was amusing. The long tradition can be traced back in some manuscripts from the late fifteenth century, and later, in a treatise on ballet called Orchésographie by Thoinot Arbeau (1520–1595) following on from the legacy of the compositions of Claude Gervais (d.1560). But Arbeau describes “Les Bouffons” as a sword dance and it still preserved much of the Moresca, the Moorish dance that was wide-spread on the Iberian Peninsula, and was meant to recall long-standing battles between Christians and Muslims.
     It was during the reign of Ferdinand of Aragon and Isabella of Castile (who wed in 1469) that Spanish music became more distinctive and the vocal villancico and romance were particularly popular. The villancico was usually a two-part composition with a prominent melody; it often elaborated dance themes, which may be why it was so often attired in instrumental garb. The leading figure of musical life at the time was Juan del Encina (1468–1529), who was master of ceremonies of the Duke of Alba, in the tiny town of Alba de Tormes, just outside his native Salamanca. There, apart from works of music, he also produced a number of pastoral plays with songs based on his own verse. While on a journey to Rome in 1500 he became acquainted with the work of his Italian colleagues, and thus contributed to the infiltration of Italian madrigals to Spain.
     The Apennine Peninsula was, in terms of music, one of the great gardens. To Bohemia from its various corners came, for example, a sprig of vine from the Florentine Matteo Rampollini (1497–1553), a four-leafed clover from the Bolognese Adriano Banchieri (1568–1634), and a pot of sage, fallen off a market stall, of the Veronese Marco Cara (c.1475–1525). The bergamasca, on the other hand, is a dance that brings to mind the fragrance of freshly cooked polenta made with the just discovered grano-turco (Turkish grain or maize). And who upon hearing the tones of the dance “La montagnura” would not recall the fleshy velvet leaves of the mountain leek.
     We have so far restricted our discussion to indigenous flora. It is time now to mention imports. A number of distinguished musicians were drawn to Bohemia, which since 1583 had been where the Emperor Rudolf II had moved the seat of the Imperial court. Many of the seeds sown by their works successfully sprouted and bore fruit. That is true, for example, of the Emperor’s deputy kapellmeister Jacob Regnart (c.1540–1599), whose three-part German villanellas not only spread quickly, but were also furnished with Czech words. Similarly, in manuscripts written by Czech musicians one can find arrangements of compositions by Giovanni Giacomo Gastoldi (c.1550–1622).

Miloslav Študent

further recording by Rozmberk Consort:

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