The Recorder. Four Centuries of Recorder Music
Pro Arte Recorder Ensemble · Conjunto Pro Arte de Flautas Dulces
Lyrichord LEMS 8030



1. Two Canticles  [2:27]  Dos cantigas   |   CSM 48 · CSM 59

anonymous, XIII century
2. 7th Royal Estampie  [0:57]  La septime estampie real
3. La Ductia  [0:47]
4. Salterello  [1:26]
5. Danse  [1:43]
6. 5th Royal Estampie  [1:06]  La quinte estampie real
7. Royal Danse  [1:16]  Dansse real
8. Lonc le rieu de la fontaine-Regnat  [1:16]

Adam de la HALLE, XIII century
9. Tant Con Je Vivrai (As Long As I Live)  [2:20]
10. Or est Baiars en Hure! (Baiars is in the Pasture!)  [1:32]


11. Canzona la Bernardino  [1:08]  JOSQUIN des Pres | La Bernardina
12. Fantasia  [1:58]  Julius de MODENA
13. Fantasia for Two Basses  [1:26]  Thomas WEELKES
14. If love now reigned  [1:32]  HENRY VIII
15. En vray amoure  [0:59]  HENRY VIII

16. Two Spanish Christmas Songs From the Catholic Kings Songbook  [2:17]
Two Spanish Villancicos from the Cancionero de Palacio
Torre de la niña   |   Manuel PONCE
Meu naranjedo   |   anonymous

17. Pavana y Gallarda d'Angleterre  [2:13]  Claude GERVAISE
18. Suite for Five Instruments  [5:16]  Anthony HOLBORNE
19. La Alfonsina (c.1550)  [1:07]  Jean GHISELIN
20. Canon ad Nonam  [1:39]  JOSQUIN des Pres
21. Gallicum Quoddam  [0:50]  Clément JANEQUIN
22. Holla Hoi  [1:11]   anonymous, XVI century
23. Bass Danse and Tourdion  [3:10]  Pierre ATTAINGNANT (1530)
24. Gavotte and Branle Gai  [3:40]  François CAROUBEL


25. Boffons  [1:45]  Jacob VAN EYCK | from Der Fluyten Lust-Hof (The Eden of the Flutes)
26. Variations on a figured bass  [3:25]  Godfrey FINGER | Gottfried
27. Sonata in D minor  [7:27]  Benedetto MARCELLO
28. Les Delices - Le Champetre  [5:00]  Jacques HOTTETERRE
29. Le Rossignol en Amour  [4:54]  François COUPERIN
30. Noel VII  [4:38]  Louis Claude D'AQUIN | DAQUIN

(Pro Arte Recorder Ensemble)

M. Videla, G. Samela, D. Alpert R. Gratzer, A. Spiller

The increased usage of the recorder in the recent times led two outstanding Argentinian musicians and educators, Profs. Mario A. Videla and Gustavo Samela, to form an ensemble dedicated to performing music originally composed for the recorder. The Pro Arte Recorder Ensemble has undertaken an extensive repertory that includes works from the Middle Ages, Renaissance, Baroque, as well as interesting works by contemporary composers. Seven different types of recorders are used, from the smallest, or exilent, to the largest, the contrabass. Other instruments, percussion, harpsichord and viola da gamba are sometimes used.

In 1971 the Conjunto Pro Arte de Flautas Dulces (Pro Arte Recorder Ensemble) received high praise in the United States for its recording of "Espectros, 1970", by Eduardo A. Alemann, which received first prize in the "Art Composition Competition" in New York. This work for four recorders was judged to be "the most original and interesting" of all the seventy entries from all over the world.

Conjunto Pro Arte de Flautas Dulces carries an extensive repertory that includes music from the Middle Ages, the Renaissance, and the Baroque as well as contemporary works. For this seven different sizes of recorder are used: from the smallest or exilent, measuring 10 cm., followed by the sopranino, the soprano, the contralto, the tenor, the bass, and largest or grand bass, that reaches 1,30 meter in size. Percussion instruments to accompany early dances and occasionally a clavicord and a viola da gamba we are also used for works from the Baroque period.

The Recorder: Its History and Its Music
Notes by Mario A. Videla

Flutes are among the oldest and most widely used of all instruments. Historically, all flutes fall into essentially two categories: the upright flute, or recorder, and the transverse flute, known simply as the flute. The recorder approached its definitive form at the end of the Middle Ages. During the 16th century recorders were made in different sizes, forming complete "families" that imitated the range of human voices in a chorus: soprano, contralto, tenor and bass. In the early part of the 18th century only one size of recorder was used: the contralto recorder in F.  This was called the "flauto" by J.S. Bach and most of his contemporaries, to distinguish it from the flute, called "flauto traverso" or simply "traverso." (The Second and Fourth Brandenburg Concertos for example use the recorder.)

At the beginning of the 20th century, after 150 years of neglect, a renewal of interest in the recorder was brought about by Arnold Dolmetsch, and Germans, Swiss and Americans began making them on a large scale.

Modern recorders are manufactured in six basic sizes: sopranino, soprano, contralto, tenor, bass and contrabass. Different kinds of wood are used and sometimes even ivory or plastic. Occasionally an even smaller instrument than the sopranino is made, called exilent, as well as one that is larger than the contrabass, known as the gran basso.

The resurgence of the recorder in our times has not only contributed to the rebirth of early music, but it is proving invaluable in music studies since it can be so successfully adapted to teaching on so many different levels of accomplishment.

The Recorder in France

Some of the richest recorder repertory (and much of the recorder music represented on this CD) comes from France. According to Curt Sachs, the first recorder appeared in an 11th Century French miniature. Many 12th and 13th Century engravings, paintings and sculptures depict three, four and even eight-hole recorders in the hands of minstrels and court musicians. The three-hole, "one-hand flute," known in France as the flutet or galoubet, was very characteristic of the Middle Ages, usually played along with a small drum that the musician beat with the free hand.

Guillaume de Machaut (1300-1377), a well-known poet and musician, mentions in his Remède de Fortune and his La Prise d'Alexandrie the words: flahute brehaingne, flaiot de saus, fistule, pipe and flauste, probably all different types of recorders since the flute was clearly already described as flaustes traverseinnes. Describing the celebrations honoring the King of Cyprus's visit to Prague in 1364 Machaut writes:

"La avoit de tous instruments
Et de flaios plus de X paires,
Cette a dire de XX manieres,
Tant des fortes coin des legieres..."

This leads one to imagine that recorders were played in pairs or larger groups, a practice that was common later on in the 15th and 16th centuries when instruments were made in "families" of three, four and more distinct sizes.

In the 16th century the recorder was known in France as the Flute a neuf trous, or recorder with nine holes. This instrument was none other than our eight-hole recorder, with its lowest opening reachable by either the little finger of the left, or right hand. When this hole was not used, it could be closed by filling it with wax. According to early chronicles, the minstrels of the court of King Francis I of France, the recorder was played as well as the flageolet, trumpets, cornet, harps, lutes, violas, drums and oboes.

P. Marin Mersenne, in his Harmonie Universelle (Paris, 1636) describes the combination of various sizes of recorders in an ensemble or consort. In this book he distinguishes between a small one (petit jeu) and a large one (grand jeu), the large one beginning where the small leaves off. The small ensemble of four instruments is one octave higher than the normal register: dessus, taille, hautcontre and basse. In the 16th century the taille and the hautcontre were played on the same recorder, equivalent to our tenor in C: the dessus corresponded to our contralto in F and the basse to our bass in F.

In the large ensemble the bass recorder of the small consort is actually the treble instrument (le dessus). This group comprises a bass recorder, two contrabasses and a grand bass (with the lowest two holes played by means of a pedal, due to its large size). The two types of groups could be combined, according to Mersenne, to produce the range of an organ. He mentions, in a curious paragraph, that "it is possible to play a little tune or song on the recorder and simultaneously sing the bass part, provided that the air that comes out of the mouth is forceful enough to make a sound on the recorder so that one man can perform a duet."

Seventy years after Mersenne's treatise appeared in France, Jacques Hotteterre's book, Principes de la flute was published in Paris in 1707. The technical possibilities of the instrument, the fingering, articulation, vibrato, of trills etc. suggest the advanced level achieved during this period.

The examples on this record have been offer a condensed panorama of the vast and interesting repertory of the recorder from the Middle Ages to the Baroque.

Medieval Recorder Music

During the Middle Ages and Renaissance the recorder was used as much in the courts as in bourgeois homes and for simple popular music. The first musical examples appropriate for the recorder may be found in the secular music of the 13th and 14th centuries. Examples of purely instrumental music have been found as well. These are principally dance music, known by such different names as the estampida (stampede), danza real (royal dance), trotto (trot), saltarello.

The first piece on the disc, Alphonso El Sabio's Two Canticles, is a recorder adaptation of two of Alfonso's (ruler of Spain from 1252 until 1284) Las Cantigas de Santa Maria.

Tracks 2 through 4 are representative of several dance pieces of the 13th century. (The complete collection of works from the Visconti and other Manuscripts can be heard on the Lyrichord Early Music Series' Istanpitta Volumes 1 & 2 by New York's Ensemble for Early Music directed by Frederick Renz: LEMS 8016 and 8022.) Three anonymous dances (Tracks 5, 6, & 7) belong to a series of pieces included in the famous Chansonnier du Roi: a collection of troubadour and trouvere songs compiled at the end of the 13th century. Within this collection of troubadour songs with texts, there are about ten instrumental pieces called Royal Estampie, or sometimes Danse and Royal Danse.

The two-voice motet (Track 8) Lonc le rieu de la fontaine-Regnat, is an example of polyphonic writing. The motet was a typical form of polyphonic music in the Middle Ages, characterised by the superimposition of melodies of different texts; one of which, considered a tenor, could adopt a predetermined rhythmic scheme.

Adam de la Halle, "the hunchback of Arras," was the last of the trouveres of Northern France. He was considered one of the most important composers at the end of the 13th century. Two of his compositions have been selected here: (Tracks 9 and 10) these rondeaux are written for three voices, with a tenor middle voice or 'carrier' of the melody. Both pieces originally had texts, Tant Con Je Vivrai (As Long as I Live) and Or est Baiars en Hure! (Baiars is in the Pasture!), but the performance of purely instrumental versions was frequent during this period.

Renaissance Recorder Music

With the development of polyphonic music the practice of playing several instruments from the same family (recorders, violas da gamba etc.) was established. At the same time new instrumental forms such as the canzona, the fantasia and the ricercare developed also.

A good deal of the music of the Renaissance lacks specific directions concerning instrumentation. Often, typical performance instruction is: "to sing or play on any kind of instrument." For this reason, much of the music of the 15th and 16th centuries is very suitable for recorder ensembles.

The different stages of contrapuntal art are heard here by three distinct schools, the Franco-Flemish, with Josquin des Pres (Track 11), the Italian, with Julius de Modena (Track 12), and the English, with Thomas Weelkes (Track 13). The two instrumental pieces of Henry VIII (Tracks 14 and 15) and the Two Spanish Christmas Songs [sic] ("villancicos") excerpted from the Songbook of the Court of the Catholic Kings, Isabella and Fernando, ("Cancionero de los Reyes Catolicos") clearly represent the secular court music of the 15th and 16th centuries. Although accompanied by poetic texts, these songs can be played on instruments (Track 16).

Musicologists, with good reason, have called the sixteenth century "the century of the dance." It gave birth to a great variety of danceable forms, usually presented in pairs, as is the case with "Pavana y Gallarda D'Angleterre" by Claude Gervaise (Track 17). "Suite for Five Instruments" by Holborne (Track 18), with richly elaborated voices, presents a marked contrast to the simple monophonic texture of the two previous dances

Returning to the Franco-Flemish School, we hear La Alfonsina by Jean Ghiselin (c.1550) (Track 19), and Canon Ad Nonam by Josquin des Pres (c.1450-1521) (Track 20).

During the 15th and 16th Centuries the Franco-Flemish School's composers travelled throughout Europe establishing themselves in different cities and gaining prestigious positions in the choirs of churches and the chapels of princes.

The authors of the Renaissance period prefaced their publications with "tant de voix que sur les instruments." This meant that a single work could be sung and played simultaneously or alternatively with instruments.

This is the case with Track 21, a performance of Clement Janequin's (1485-c. 1560) Gallicum Quoddam, and Track 22 is entitled Holla Hoi, (Anon. XVI century), both of which were originally written with text.

Basse Danse and Tourdion, by Pierrer Attaingnant (1530) (Track 23) features viola da gamba bajo and clavicord.

In the first half of the 16th Century various musical publications on dance appeared in France and elsewhere. They dealt mostly with collections of fashionable dances written for four or five instruments. Amongst the most popular pairs are the Basse Dance-Tourdion and the Pavana-Gallarda, which later became the suite. There were also many popular "branles" or popular dances from the various regions of France. In the 17th century new dances emerged like the passepied, the bouree, the sarabande, the courante and the gavotte.

Even today, many of these dances have retained their ingenuousness and charm like the two Attaingnant published in 1530, and the gavotte and Branle Gai by E Caroubel (Track 24), which originally appeared in the 1612 collection of Michael Praetorius "Terpsichore".

Baroque Music Recorder

During the 17th and 18th centuries the recorder gained new dimension as a solo instrument. A strong tendency toward individualistic expression caused the gradual abandonment of polyphonic music in favor of a one-line melody that attained dominance, relegating the other voices to mere accompaniment. This was the origin of the "basso continuo," a practice that developed over more than 150 years, until the end of the Baroque period around 1750. The basso continuo generally consists of one harmonic instrument (harpsichord, clavicord, organ, lute) which brought out the chords of accompaniment. To this was added a stringed instrument (viola da gamba, cello or bassoon) which reinforced the bass melodic line.

The art of ornamentation and variation play an important role in Baroque music, impelling the musicians to develop a high degree of virtuosity. This can be seen from the variations on a theme entitled "Boffons of J. van Eyck" (Track 25) taken from his famous collection Der Fluyten Lust-Hof ("The Eden of the Flutes".)

In England the variations were called "divisions" and a favorite form was that of creating variations on a "figured bass" or ground which repeated itself constantly in an unchanging form. In the example here by Godfrey Finer, (Track 26) taken from the collection "The Division Flute" (circa 1700) the ground bass is presented first as a solo by the viola da gamba, then later with the chords of the harpsichord serving as a base for the different variations carried by the recorder.

Sonata in D Minor by Marcello (Track 27) illustrates another of the typical Baroque forms: the sonata da chiesa with its four characteristic movements (lento - rapido - lento - rapido) which, along with the sonata da camera or suite, and the concerto grosso comprise the most important forms of instrumental music of that era.

Jacques Hotteterre (c. 1680-1761), came from an important family of musicians and instrument makers. He was not only a gifted recorder player but also played the viola da gamba and bassoon which won him his admittance to "La Grande Ecurie du Roy." In addition to his Principes de la Flute Traversiere, de la Flute a bec, et du Hautbois, edited in 1707, he published several suites and other pieces for one or two instruments with a "ground bass" accompaniment. Les Delices - Le Champetre (Track 28) are duos for contralto recorders, harpsichord, and viola da gamba. They are excerpted from his Primier Livre de Pieces, published in Paris in 1715. Their complete titles are: "Les Delices, ou le Fargis" and "Rondeau le champetre, nomme par le Roy: les Ecos".

François Couperin le Grand (1668-1733) was the most important member of a distinguished musical family. He was the organist of Louis XIV at Verasailles, and organist of St. Gervais in Paris. His collection of pieces for harpsichord assembled in 27 Suites stand out as France's most important written music for the harpsichord. In some of the pieces Couperin indicates the potential for other instruments such as flutes, oboes, and violins to play. His Le Rossignol en Amour (Track 29), is performed here on sopranino recorder and harpsichord.

Louis Claude D'Aquin (1694-1772) occupied an important position in the French music world throughout his long lifetime. He started performing as a child prodigy before Louis XIV. All of Paris gathered to listen to his famous "noels", of Christmas songs based on old popular melodies that D'Aquin elaborated and enriched with appropriate harmonies, and brought together in interesting variations for organ, harpsichord and other instruments. Heard here is his Noel VII for bass recorder, contralto recorder, contralto viola da gamba, and harpsichord (Track 30).

For nearly half a century, Lyrichord has provided world music listeners with acclaimed recordings of indigenous music from all over the globe. In 1994 Lyrichord launched the Lyrichord Early Music Series (LEMS). Our catalog now consists of historical recordings of legendary countertenor, Russell Oberlin, as well as exciting new projects with renowned early music performers and scholars. Be sure to hear the ground-breaking Istanpitta! and Istanpitta II, by New York's Ensemble for Early Music, directed by Frederick Renz, Montiverdi's "Orfeo" by ARTEK, directed by Gwendolyn Toth, Franco-Flemish polyphony by Schola Discantus, directed by Kevin Moll, and tour de force vocal performances by the likes of Drew Minter, Jeffrey Dooley, Howard Crook, and Norma Gentile. Lyrichord and the Lyrichord Early Music Series - your source for quality music from around the world!

Originally produced by Qualiton, Argentina
Originally released on Lyrichord in 1977

A to D mastering and EQ by Vivian Stoll
CD Mastering by DSW Mastering Studios, NYC

Illustration by Lesley Anne Doyel
Booklet and Cover Design: Gudrun Cram-Drach

LEMS 8030