Ars Magis Subtiliter / P.A.N. – Ensemble Project Ars Nova
Secular Music of the Chantilly Codex
New Albion 021

1. Johannes SYMONIS. Puisque je suis fumeux  [4:29]
ballade — mezzosoprano, vielle, corno muto

2. Jehan SUZAY. Pictagoras, Jabol et Orpheus  [5:22]
ballade — countertenor, lute, vielle

3. Pierre des MOLINS. De ce que foul pense  [2:34]
2 vielles, lute

4. Anon. A mon pouir  [2:35]
lute, vielle

5. Anon. Medée fu en amer veritable  [7:07]
ballade — mezzosoprano, lute, vielle

6. GOSCALCH. En nul estate  [2:17]
lute, vielle

7. SOLAGE. Fumeux fume par fumée  [4:38]
rondeau — countertenor, 2 vielles

8. Anon. Ha, fortune  [1:45]
lute, vielle

9. Baude CORDIER. Tout par compas  [3:58]
rondeau-canon2 vielles, tenor

10. GRIMACE. A l'arme, a l'arme  [1:39]
virelai — 3 voices, vielle

11. Guillaume de MACHAUT. Quant Theseus ~ Ne quier veoir  [6:12]
ballade — mezzosoprano, countertenor, 2 vielles

12. Baude CORDIER. Belle, bonne, sage  [2:26]
lute, 2 vielles

13. Jean VAILLANT. Par maintes foys  [2:55]
virelai — 3 voices

14. Pierre des MOLINS. De ce que foul pense  [4:57]
ballade — mezzosoprano, lute, corno muto, vielle

15. Fransiscus ANDRIEU. Armes, Amours ~ O flour  [6:32]
ballade — 3 voices, lute, vielle


Michael Collver — countertenor, corno muto
Shira Kammen — vielle
Laurie Monahan — mezzosoprano
Crawford Young — lute

with guests:

Peter Becker, tenor
Randall Cook, vielle

lute: Joel van Lennep (Rindge, NH) 1982;
vielle: Fabrizio Reginato (Fonte Alto) 1984;
vielle: Richard Earle (Basel) 1982;
corno muto: Jacques LeGuy (Paris) 1975.

MODERN EDITION: French secular music, Manuscript Chantilly, Musée Condé 564.
Ed. Gordon K. Greene. Vols. 19-20. Polyphonic Music of the Fourteenth Century, Monaco: 1981-1982.

COVER IMAGE: details from Très Riche Heures du Duc de Berry, Musée Condé, Chantilly.
Courtesy of the George Braziller Co. New York

Recorded at: Wellesley Chapel, Wellesley, MA July 20-22nd, 1987
Recording: WGBH89.7FM Boston
Producer: Joel Gordon
Engineer: James Donahue
Design: William Reuter Design
Executive Producer: Foster Reed

© %#p413; P 1989 New Albion Records, Inc. 584 Castro #515
San Francisco, California 94114

In its broadest sense, "Ars Nova" (New Art) refers to the flowering of polyphony that began in the early 14th Century, as innovations in musical notation opened up an enormous new range of expressive possibilities for musicians and composers. Ensemble P.A.N. specializes in this rich and varied repertory of late medieval instrumental and vocal music. While scholarship and training in historical performance practice underlie the ensemble's efforts, the group's goals are more than antiquarian. Offering a genre of chamber music that is largely unfamiliar to modern audiences, P.A.N. seeks to present afresh the finely crafted masterworks of an age whose passions and anxieties were not unlike those of our own age. In this respect, Ensemble P.A.N. is dedicated to the realization of a truly new art.

Ensemble P.A.N. was founded in Basel, Switzerland in 1980. Lutenist Crawford Young currently teaches at the Schola Cantorum in Basel, specializing in medieval lute and the art of improvisation. Singer and cornettist Michael Collver has worked extensively in early vocal techniques at the Schola Cantorum and teaches at Longy School of Music in Boston. Singer Laurie Monahan, who also concentrates on early vocal styles, taught at the Schola Cantorum and is currently on the faculties of the Longy School of Music and the New England Conservatory in Boston. A native of Berkeley, California, Shira Kammen plays vielle and rebec and is well known in the Bay Area for her performances and teaching of medieval bowed instruments. Joining P.A.N. for this recording are New York-based tenor Peter Becker, and Randall Cook on vielle, who also teaches in Basel.


The second half of the fourteenth century, despite wars, plagues, economic depression, and religious strife, saw the flowering in the arts, in literature and in philosophy, of a delight with subtlety of the most intricate kind, and a refinement of sensibility that took special pleasure in all kinds of complexities. This can be observed in the filigree decoration of the gothique flamboyant, the detail in the borders of illuminated manuscripts, the arcane network of internal puns, acrostics, and classical references in much of the poetry, and the summae of the last of the scholastic philosophers.

The same delight with subtlety and complexity can be heard in the music of the period, when composers devised elaborate notation systems that let them write music of extraordinary intricacy by the process of creating a set of rhythmic layers, where each voice of a composition seemed to move in a rhythmic world of its own, with syncopations, hesitations and shifts of speed, regulated by numerical proportions that also controlled the temporal coordination of the parts and their relationship to one another. The cement binding the musical edifice together was the theory of discant: a basic framework of note-against-note counterpoint effectively regulated rhythmic displacements as they were heard by performer and listener alike. Early in the century, this framework admitted only perfect intervals, the octave, the fifth and the fourth, at structural points, but towards the end of the century there was increased use of imperfect consonances, thirds and sixths, that lent the music a new warmth and sweetness. The two goals of sweetness and subtlety were the seemingly paradoxical ends toward which the music of the late fourteenth century strove.

In the middle decades of the century Guillaume de Machaut had established, almost singlehandedly, new genres of polyphonic song that blended a texture derived ultimately from the motet with the poetic forms of the trouveres, the ballade, the virelai, and the rondeau. By the end of Machaut's life the texture of these songs had become more or less standardized as one principal voice, the cantus, supported by two other parts, the tenor and contratenor. There was also something almost like a class division between the different genres. The ballade, which remained in some ways the closest to the motet, had become increasingly the "serious" works, with the texts that celebrated important occasions or personages, or served as an outlet for moral or philosophical ideas. Virelais were often charming character pieces using imitations of bird-songs and describing nature scenes (often with a hidden moral dealing with courtly love), and rondeaux were the most obvious outlet for the poetry of courtly love pure and simple.

The new songs were cultivated in most of the French courts and in those in Aragon and northern Italy, that is, wherever there was an interest in music and lyric poetry. But few seem to have cultivated them with the same fervor of the schismatic papal court at Avignon—under the Genevan pope Clement VII (1378-1394), and his Aragonese successor Benedict XIII (1394-1409)— or the courts of Foix, Gaston Phébus (1343-1391) and his son Mathieu (1391-1398), as well as that of the kings of Aragon.

The music of these courts is reflected in a remarkable source, Chantilly, Musée Condé MS 564 (olim 1047), a manuscript copied most likely in Avignon or Foix sometime before 1400. It belonged in the fifteenth century to a Florentine family, and remained in Florence until the nineteenth century when it was acquired by the Duke of Aumale, who presented it to the Musée Condé. In its present state the manuscript contains 99 songs and 13 motets. The original first twelve leaves were removed early on, perhaps because they contained pieces that presented political views no longer accepted after 1395. In two leaves added at the beginning, someone, perhaps the composer, added Baude Cordier's famous heart-shaped piece, Belle, bonne, sage and his circle-shaped canon Tour par compas. Datable works in the manuscript give the repertory a span from ca. 1370 to 1395.

All the songs in this record come from the Chantilly codex and present as clear a picture as can be presented within one recording of the song repertory of the late fourteenth century. The ars subtilior, as Ursula Gunther aptly has called it, is not just music of great complexity, some of which can be understood only by the performers themselves or by those who take the time to ponder the sometimes arcane texts and complex notation. It is also music of charm and delicacy that has its own immediate appeal. Like the elaborate work of contemporary goldsmiths, each of these songs charms and dazzles at first sight and also repays careful listening and study of detail.

Johannes Symonis, called Hasprois (fl. 1378-1428), Puisque je suis fumeux (ballade). Hasprois, a clerk from Arras, served successively the king of Portugal, Charles V of France, antipopes Clement VII and Benedict XIII, and pope Martin V. He died in Rome as a notary of the curia. This ballade belongs within a group of pieces produced in the late fourteenth century by a "society of smokers". These works have whimsical texts that make little apparent sense — though they may have hidden meanings. It is not impossible that the "fumeurs" did use opium or hashish, which was then available, to fire their vagaries.

Jehan Suzay (Suzoy) (fl. 1380). Pictagoras, jabol et Orpheus (ballade). Suzay may have been connected with the Avignon chapel, since a Gloria by him survives in the Apt manuscript. He belongs to the generation immediately after Machaut, but this ballade has all the traits of having been written in the 1380's, on account of its fierce rhythmic complexities.

Pierre de Molins (fl. 1390), De ce que foul pense (ballade). Nothing certain is known of Pierre's life. The style of this piece suggests a date close to 1400. It was a popular work, transmitted in many sources, including an instrumental version in the Faenza codex. Its opening was woven into a well-known tapestry in the 1420's.

Anonymous, A mon pouir (virelai). This piece is unique to the Chantilly manuscript. It is done here instrumentally, something that we know was done to this repertory from the existence of sources such as the Faenza manuscript. The style of the piece suggests a date in the 1390's.

Anonymous, Medee fu en amer veritable (ballade). Though anonymous, this was a popular work, known in Florence and in the Veneto, which merited being copied in the 1430's in the famous Oxford Manuscript, Canonici misc. 213, along with music of a later generation. The text is an elegant love-poem that looks back to the style of Machaut, but the music is very much a product of the 1380's.

Goscalch [Petrus de Godescalc? (fl. 1378-1394)], En nul estat (ballade). The identification of the composer of this fiercely complex work with Petrus, who was connected with the papal chapel under Clement VII and Benedict XIII, is not absolutely certain, but it is certainly plausible. This work, setting a philosophical text dealing with deceit, treachery, and the shortness of life, is his only known work. Here it is performed instrumentally.

Solage (fl. 1380), Fumeux Fume par fumee (rondeau). Several of Solage's works suggest that he was in the service of the Duke of Berry in the 1380's. Fumeux Fume is another of the whimsical works for the society of fumeurs.

Anonymous, Ha, fortune (ballade). This piece survives only in Chantilly. Despite some rhythmic complexities, its general style suggests a date before the height of the ars subtilior in the 1380's.

Baude Cordier (fl. 1384-1398), Tout par compas (canonic rondeau). Cordier was most likely the nickname of Baude Fresnel, harp player of Philip the Bold, Duke of Burgundy. It is possibly Baude himself who added his two works at the beginning of the Chantilly manuscript. Tout par compas is the famous canon in the shape of a circle that has been widely reproduced in facsimile. Both the text and the length of the work (thirty three tempora for one turn of the wheel) are symbolic of perfection, as is the starting mensuration of the canonic voices.

Grimace (fl. 1350-1375), A l'arme, a l'arme (virelai). Nothing is known of Grimace's life but from his music it appears that he was a contemporary of Machaut.

Guillaume de Machaut (c. 1300- 1377), Quant Theseus (ballade double). Machaut's magnificent four-voice ballade with two texts is one of his best works. The texts are an elegant love-song in the most elaborate rhetoric, full of classical and mythological allusions.

Baude Cordier (fl. 1384-1398), Belle, bonne, sage (rondeau). Like the circle canon, this piece, written in the shape of a heart, was entered into the manuscript probably by Cordier himself.

Jean Vaillant (fl. 1360-1390), Par maintes foys (virelai). Vaillant, who may have been a musician of the Duke of Berry, was apparently the head of a music school in Paris and was probably a younger contemporary of Machaut. Par maintes foys is the archetypal bird-song virelai. The subject is the traditional conflict between the nightingale (the symbol of love) and the cuckoo (the symbol of faithlessness).

F. Andrieu [Magister Franciscus? (fl. 1350-1377)], Armes, amours (ballade double). His ballade sets Eustace Deschamps' lament on the death of Guillaume de Machaut, which suggests that Andriu was a pupil or a younger colleague of Machaut.

—Alejandro Enrique Planchart

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