Arnold de LANTINS († 1432). Missa Verbum incarnatum
Capilla Flamenca | Psallentes | Clari Cantuli
Ricercar RIC 207 | I Fiamminghi

La Missa Verbum incarnatum d'Arnold de Lantins est l'une des premières messes unitaires. Son auteur qui fai parti des disciples de Joahnnes Ciconia est, commme lui, originaire de l'ancienne Principauté de Liège. Destinée à la période de Noël, cette messe est complétée par un proprium grégorien issu de sources de la même région

1. Ave Maria ~ O Maria  [2:18]

2. Introitus. Gaudeamus  [3:33]
chant grégorien

Arnold de LANTINS
Missa Verbum incarnatum
3. Kyrie  [4:54]
4. Gloria  [5:14]

5. Epistola. Dominus possedit me  [3:10]
chant grégorien

6. Graduale. Benedicta et venerabilis  [3:31]
chant grégorien

7. Regina coeli  [2:58]

8. Sequentia. Letabuntur  [4:27]
chant grégorien

9. Evangelium. Liber generationes  [6:59]
chant grégorien

Arnold de LANTINS
Missa Verbum incarnatum
10. Credo  [7:20]

11. Offertorium. Felix namque  [1:47]
chant grégorien

Arnold de LANTINS
12. O pulcherrima mulierum  [3:12]

13. Prefacio. Et in conceptione  [3:40]
chant grégorien

Arnold de LANTINS
Missa Verbum incarnatum
14. Sanctus  [4:08]
15. Agnus Dei  [3:12]

16. Communio. Regina mundi  [2:04]
chant grégorien

17. Ite missa est - Deo gratias  [0:45]
chant grégorien

Johannes CESARIS
18. A virtutis ignitio ~ Ergo beata nascio  [2:20]

Dirk Snellings
Marnix De Cat, Stratton Bull, Gunther Vandeven - contre-ténors
Jan Caals, Stephan Van Dyck, Christopher Kale - ténors
membres de l'Ensemble OLTREMONTANO:
Simen Van Mechelen, Wim Becu - trompettes à coulisse

PSALLENTES (chant grégorien)
Hendrik Vanden Abeele
Filip Souvagie (solo Epistola)
Paul Schils
Hendrik Vanden Abeele (solo)

CLARI CANTULI (chant grégorien)
Ria Vanwing
Anne Boon, Annabel De Vis, Astrid De Vis, Adriaan Moeys, Hendrik Moeys,
Eli Nomes, Elke Schouwaerts, Liesbet Schouwaerts, Liisa Stiers,
Willem Van Dooren, Filip Van Herpe, Reinoud Van Mechelen

Sources principales :
Bologna, Civico Museo Bibliografico Musicale, MS Q15 (Missa Verbum incarnatum)
Bologna, Biblioteca Universitaria, MS 2216
Oxford, Bodleian Library, MS Canon. misc. 213
Tongeren, Basiliek, Bibliotheek, ms. 57 (olim VIII)
Tongeren, Basiliek, Bibliotheek, ms s.s. (olim LXXXIV)
Trento, Castello del Buonconsiglio, MS 87

Conseil musicologique : Alamire Foundation (K.U. Leuven)

Cet enregistrement a été réalisé avec l'aide de la Communauté française
(Direction générale de la Culture, Service de la Musique)

Enregistrement : Eglise Saint-Apollinaire de Bolland (Mai 2001)
Prise de son et direction artistique : Jérôme LEJEUNE
Production : Jérôme LEJEUNE

© 2002 Enki Productions
© 2002 Ricercar

Arnold de Lantins
Missa Verbum incarnatum

Arnoldus de Lantins, a native of the bishopric of Liège, is known primarily in the history of Western music for his contribution to the evolution of the cyclic Mass at the beginning of the 15th century. He had written several sections of Masses known as ‘Mass pairs' consisting of the Gloria and the Credo, and in which he obtained a certain musical unity by using the same motif at the beginning and / or in the continuation of each movement. He also increased the sense of unity between the sections by using the same key and the same succession of bars. Lantins' fame also rests on the fact that the sole source of his works, the Q15 manuscript in the Civico museo of Bologna, opens with a Marian Mass that consists of an Introit, Kyrie, Sanctus and Agnus Dei by de Lantins and a Gloria and a Credo by the composer Johannes Ciconia; this latter was also a native of the bishopric of Liège and was rightly considered to have been the leader of the so-called ‘Liège polyphonists'.

This Mass follows an ancient tradition in that it is characterised by its use of inserted texts called tropes. The name of this Mass comes from the trope that is introduced in the Kyrie. The unity of the Mass is facilitated by several elements, of which the most important are:
1.- The use of de Lantins' Marian motet O pulcherrima mulierum (an anthem) as a model for each section of the Mass; the Mass could also have been called the Missa O pulcherrima because of this.
2.- The use of the Lydian mode (F) for each section.
3.- A common initial motif for each section and other motives that recur; examples of this are at the beginning of almost every second part in tempus perfectum (our 3/2) as well as long-sustained chords at the end of each section, especially on the Amen of the Gloria and the Credo.
4.- A search for unity in the succession of rhythmic systems of tempus and prolatio that establish the rhythmical relationships between the different sections of each movement of the Mass.

This Marian Mass in three voices is also characterised by its high-lying tessitura — it is set for contre-ténor, ténor aigu and ténor — and by a total range that is limited to less than two octaves from F to D, as well as by many crossings between the voices, including between the first and second voice. What is more, its declamatory style leaves little room for imitation. Certain passages (the “Jesu Christe” of the Gloria, the “Amen” of the Gloria and the Credo and the “Dona nobis pacem” of the Agnus Dei) are particularly highlighted by the use of totally homophonic settings, the long notes employed acting as fermatas. The performers seize these moments to add melodic ornamentation according to the principle of cantus coronatus or noëma. It is only in the Sanctus that de Lantins grants the upper voice a greater melodic freedom in relation to the lower voices that then take on a more accompanimental role. Extremely significant from a rhetorical point of view is the flattening of the A to A flat that the rules of musica ficta demand at the end of the final “Dona nobis pacem” of the Agnus Dei.

Because of the text of the trope inserted into the Kyrie and the Sanctus, and also because a Marian motet has been used as the model for the Mass, we have assumed that this Mass is a votive Mass for Advent. A votive (from the Latin votum: a wish or vow) Mass is in principle less linked to the liturgy of the ecclesiastical year. For this recording we have associated this Mass, referring as it does to Mary and to the birth of Christ, with a specific feast: the Conceptio Beate Marie Virginis or the Immaculate Conception of Mary on 8 December. In order to give the Mass a liturgical context, we have had recourse to one of the most important liturgical ‘handbooks’ of the bishopric of Liège: a Liber ordinarius that scarcely a decade after the composition of the Mass was copied out in 1435-1436 for the Collégiale Notre-Dame de Tongres by the musician Renerus Menken. By adding this book to the information provided by other ordinarii of the Liége region we have assembled a perfect guide to our choice and ordering of the liturgical chants for this feast of Mary.

The Immaculate Conception of Mary was celebrated as a feast of the triplex or highest grade in the majority of cathedrals and collegiate churches. It was also the most important feast during the month of Advent. Bells would be rung, the cantor and the hebdomadaire or duty canon would lead the choir whilst the Dean, the spiritual head of the church, would intone the chants for the Mass and the principal Offices. High Mass would be celebrated immediately after Tierce and would itself be followed by Sext and Nones.

For the remaining Gregorian chants, the Propers in particular, we have had recourse to a Gradual dating from the end of the 14th century that also came from Tongres. Given the rarity of liturgical sources in Liège that date from the 14th and 15th centuries, we have also had to make use of manuscripts from other collegiate churches of the Principality of Liège. The leading church of Tongres was, however, felicitously rich in this respect. The Livre de Choeur was transcribed during the deanship of the great liturgical reformer Radulphus de Rivo (d. 1403). The manuscript was used for the performance of the chants used in daily Mass for a period of four hundred years until the chants were suppressed by the French in 1797. Boys' voices were also used in the performance of the Gregorian chant, as was usual in the Low Countries at that time. They were only allowed to sing a part of the chants; a document from the Collegiate Church of Notre-Dame de Termonde limits the participation of the ‘schoolboys' to singing several verses of the Gradual or of the Litany of Martyrs.

The Gospel reading Liber generationis with its already old-fashioned two-part ending De qua natus was notated around 1300 in a valuable evangeliary that is currently preserved in the Treasury of the Collegiate Church of Tongres. Several ways of performing this genealogy of Christ are known: one sole priest would sing the Gospel at Tongres, undoubtedly from the lectern beside the Gospel, but in Cologne cathedral the genealogy was sung by three priests in alternation. There is also a version of the conclusion “De qua natus” by H. Battre, also a native of the bishopric of Liège.

This reconstruction of the Holy Office is completed with motets by contemporaries of de Lantins who also were active in the Liège region. Johannes Brassart was a cantor and canon at Tongres, whilst Johannis Cesaris was probably the same person as the singer who bore the same name at the church of St. Servaas in Maastricht. In contrast to the works by de Lantins that are recorded here, these motets are much more complex in style. The opening motet Ave Maria / O Maria and the concluding motet Ave virtutis / Ergo beata / Benedicta filia are for four voices with two upper voices of the same range that are supported by two lower parts. These lower parts, ténor and contra-ténor, are written in notes that are longer than the two other parts and belong to the style of the isorhythmic motet in which the ténor and contra-ténor lines were divided into sections that used an identical rhythmic and sometimes melodic ‘series’ dating back to the 14th century. Cesaris work makes use of upper voices of great virtuosity and also applies the hocket technique that was very much in fashion during the 14th century. Following a practice current at the start of the 14th century, these two parts for ténor and contra-ténor have been
given to slide trumpets.

Brassart's Regina Caeli with its trope Alle, Domine paraphrases the Gregorian chant to a great extent with several melodic liberties at the end of each phrase. This motet also allows the development of imitative passages.

The liturgical content of this recording is of course the factor common to all the works recorded, but there is also a certain biographical unity. The three composers of the works performed here were all active in the Liège region, whilst their compositions are to be found in manuscript sources that link them all to Italian musical life at the beginning of the 15th century. First of these was Arnoldus de Lantins (d. 1432), who was possibly from the village of Lantins near Liège. There is as yet no link proven between Arnoldus and the composer Hugo de Lantins, although they may have been brothers. The first known trace of Arnoldus de Lantins dates from 1423 and takes us to the group of singers assembled by Bishop Pandolfo Malatesta of Pesaro. Dufay frames the two de Lantins as Ernoul (Arnoldus) and Huchon (Hugo) in his song He compaignons. As well as two more singers from Liège, Johannes Humblot and Egidius Bysenhay, five more singers are named who were in Malatesta's service. If we follow the annotations on two songs by de Lantins, he would have been in Venice in 1428. He succeeded Johannes Brassart as a singer in the Papal chapel in Rome in November 1431 and remained there with Guillaume Dufay and
the newcomer Guillaume Malbecque (Maalbeek) until March 1432. De Lantins died in June or July 1432, for ‘Guillermus Mediatoris alias de Malebecque, clerk in the diocese of Cambrai solicited a prebendary position in the church of Fermes in the bishopric of Liège'. This position had been vacant since the death of Arnoldus de Lantins, familiaris and tenor of the Papal chapel.

Johannes Brassart (±1400-1455) was also a priest and a native of the bishopric of Liège. The term Ludo in certain manuscripts allows us to situate his birthplace at Lauw, a small village between Tongres and Liège. He was attached to several collegiate churches in Liège, as succentor or singing master at St. John the Baptist's in 1422 and later in the same position at St. Lambert's in 1428. He served in the Papal chapel in 1431 and was also present at the Council of Basel that was convoked by the Pope in 1431. It was undoubtedly there that he made the acquaintance of the Holy Roman Emperor and then became rector capelle in the service of the German Emperors Sigismund, Albert II and Frederic III (1434-1443). He was also canon and cantor at the Collegial Church of Notre-Dame in Tongres. He was canon in St. Paul's in Liège at the time of his death in 1455.

We have much less information about the life of Johannes Cesaris. He is generally placed in France, above all in Bourges between 1406 and 1409 and in Paris: Cesaris is mentioned there together with Johannes Carmen and Johannes Tapissier by Court poet Martin Le Franc in his famous poem Le Champion des Dames. This work of two thousand lines was written between 1440 and 1442 and was dedicated to Philip the Good. Cesaris' vocal qualities are praised (hopefully not just because his name rhymes with Paris) as are those of his colleagues in the following lines:

“Tapissier, Carmen, Cesaris
N'a pas longtemps si bien chanterrent
Qu'il esbahirent tout Paris
Et tous ceulx qui les frequenterrent.
Mais oncques jour ne deschanterrent
En melodie de tel chois
Ce m'ont dit qui les hanterrent,
Que G. du Fay et Binchois.”

Less well known is the fact that Johannes Cesaris was attached to the collegiate church of St. Servaas in Maastricht in 1455-1456; this provides a possibility for his connection with the diocese of Liège.

Although there remain many gaps in the biographies of these four Liège-born composers, it is nevertheless clear that many composers from the bishopric of Liège followed Johannes Ciconia's footsteps to Italy and that their music was preserved primarily in North Italian manuscripts. Most sources of polyphonic music in the Liège area at that time have unfortunately disappeared, thanks amongst other things to the sacking of Liège by the armies of Charles the Rash in 1468. On the basis of what has remained we may state that the music by these composers is of high quality and that it is characterised by a diversity of styles. Archaic and more progressive tendencies are both to be discovered therein, for these composers knew how to combine the characteristics of Northern polyphony with Italian and French influences in an intriguingly intelligent manner. The combination of these styles with the plainsong that formed the base of a great number of polyphonic compositions is perfectly illustrated by the different vocal groupings used in this reconstruction.

(FWO, Alamire Foundation, K.U. Leuven)
Translation : Peter LOCKWOOD