Planctus
Studio der frühen Musik




medieval.org
EMI Reflexe 1C 063-30129
— LP, 1976
EMI Classics 8 26497 2 — CD, 2000





Seite 1

1. Planctus cigne. Clangam filii  [6:36]
Text nach Bruno Stäblein

2. 4 Planctus from Las Huelgas  [19:02]
Text nach Higini Angles
      Plange Castilla  Sancho III  [3:45]   Hu  172
      Quis dabit  Fernando III ?  [5:02]   Hu  170
      Rex obiit  Alfonso VIII  [4:07]   Hu  169
      O monialis concio  Dª Mª Fernández de Agüero  [6:07]   Hu  171


Seite 2

Guiraut RIQUIER  um 1150–um 1220
3. Ples de tristor  [12:29]

Gaucelm FAIDIT  um 1230–um 1300
4. Fortz chausa es que tot lo major dan  [8:27]

aus der Bordesholmer Marienklage  um 1476
5. Tristor et cuncti tristantur  [4:24]
Text nach Friedrich Gennrich




STUDIO DER FRÜHEN MUSIK
Thomas Binkley

Andrea von Ramm—Sängerin
Richard Levitt—Sänger
Sterling Jones—Rabel morisco, Lira und Vielle
Thomas Binkley—Laute und Chitarra sarracenica
unter Mitwirkung von
Benjamin Bagby—Sänger

Musikalische Einrichtung: Thomas Binkley

Aufgenommen: 24.5-2.VI.1976, Séon (Schweiz), Evangelische Kirche
Produzent: Gerd Berg
Tonmeister: Johann-Nikolaus Matches
Verlag: Manuskript

Titelseite: Statue from a Crucifixion group, Mourning St. John
The Metropolitan Museum of Art.
The Cloisters Collection, Purchase 1925
Photography by Al Mozell
Cover-Design: Patelli
Litho: Repro Schmitz KG, Cologne

Ⓟ 1976 EMI Electrola GmbH
Digital reamastering Ⓟ 2000 by EMI Electrola GmbH
© 2000 by EMI Electrola GmbH





Planctus means lament, the expression of grief and sorrow, regret or sadness. Planctus, in medieval times was this expression in song. The origin and history of planctus is long and intertwined with the history of the lai and the sequence. Some planctus, such as those of Peter Abélard (CD 8 26492 2) are written on Biblical themes and are of great length. The use of the Latin language separates them from the vernacular lai. They are called planctus because the text presents a tragic situation. A planctus may be an allegory (Planctus Cigne in the present recording) in which calamity is inferred. Many planctus are more personal than these, being monuments on the death of real people, usually people in the political arena. These planctus, being of a later date, may be in the vernacular and may employ ordinary song structures (Ples de tristor, Fartz chausa in the present recording). The structural difference between these types is clearly seen in a comparison of Planctus Cigne with the later vernacular planctus. Planctus Cigne employs the principal of the lai, in which sections of differing length (puncta) are sung one or more times, always with new text, never to recur having once been dropped. Ples de tristor, on the other hand, is a strophic song concluding with a tornada, a repeat of the last portion of the melody. The Latin planctus from Las Huelgas may be viewed as strophic songs with but a single strophe.

Planctus Cigne
Planctus Cigne (the Swan's Lament), is perhaps the most famous of all planctus, known to modern listeners through the Carl Orff Carmina Burana score. Indeed the original version is quite different! This is one of six Carolingian sequences which have survived in about two dozen manuscripts from the 9th to 13th centuries. Planctus Cigne underwent many changes in the course of time, and new texts were added to provide a religious significance to the allegory. The original text contains the following story: a swan flies out from land over the sea, and encounters a storm. The swan laments its fate as it is tossed about in the waves, too weak to rise above the storm and unable to catch the many fish which would give sustenance. But as morning breaks, the storm subsides and the swan regains its strength, and it is able to fly joyously back to the land.

Four Planctus from Las Huelgas
Las Huelgas is the name of a monastery near Burgos in Old Castile. It was founded by Alfonso VIII, who gained fame especially for his victory over the Moslems at the battle of Las Navas de Tolosa in 1212. Some time after his death a planctus was written in his honour, Rex obiit, which was assimilated into this large manuscript. It was another scribe that entered Plange Castilla, a lament on the death of Alfonso's father, Sancho III, on whose death the kingdoms of Castile and León were divided between two sons. (It is interesting to note that the Spanish kings were connected to the dominant European cultural developments: Alfonso VIII, for example was married to Eleanor, daughter of Henry II (Anjou) of England and Eleanor of Acquitain, a symbol of the troubadour culture; Richard Coeur de Lion was a son of that union, whose death was the subject of another planctus discussed below). Another Las Huelgas planctus is Quis dabit capiti meo aquam, possibly written on the death of the grandson of Alfonso VIII, Ferdinand, later Saint Ferdinand (San Fernando). The final planctus laments the death of the Abbes of Las Huelgas, and contains the inscription De dompna Maria Gundissalvi de Aguero, abtissa et nobilissima super omnes abbatissas. This Maria Gonzales was a member of a renowned family, one of whose members, Pero Gonzales de Aguero was present at the ceremony prepared by our Abbess at Las Huelgas two days before the coronation of the young Alfonso XI, and who continued in the service of Peter "the cruel", son of Alfonso XI.

Ples de tristor (Guiraut Riquier)
Guiraut was born about 1230, in Narbonne, at that time a town of business rather than courtly affairs. His first song is dated 1254 and seems to be addressed to the wife of the Vicecount of Narbonne. Later, unable to secure a worthy existence in the Languedoc after the ravages of the Albigentian Crusade (cf. CD 8 26500 2), Riquier went to Spain, at the court of Alfonso X el Sabio in Burgos. Here he remained some ten years, active as a poet-composer. Guiraut wrote an epistle 1274 to Alfonso in which he bade the king to decide upon a vocabulary for the different sorts of artists. Guiraut suggested there be four categories beginning with the acrobats and tight-rope walkers, for which he suggested the term 'jongleurs', while 'ménestrels' would include the musicians and singers, 'trobadores' the authors and composers, while 'doctores de trobar' would include the recognized masters (to which class he certainly ascribed himself). About 1279 Riquier left Spain for the protection of Count Henry II of Rodez, who still was able to continue something of the pre-Albigentian life style. Guiraut wrote a song book containing his own compositions arranged in chronological order. Two copies of this book have survived, one clearly copied from the original, for it contains the following heading: Aissi comensan los cans d'En Guiraut Riquier de Narbona, en aissi cum es de cansos e de verses e de pastorellas e de retroenchas e de descortz e d'albas e d'autras diversas obras, en aissi adordenadamens cum era ordenar en lo seu libre; del quai libre escrig per la sua man fob aissi tot transladat; e ditz en aissi cum de sus se canten.
Unfortunately, the complete copy (Paris f. fr. 856) contains no music, however the shortened copy does contain 48 melodies, among them our planctus. This planctus bears the inscription: Planh que fe Gr. Riquier del senher de Narbona l'an MCCLXX e es uers planh. — written in other words 1270 on the death of Amalric IV, Vicecount of Narbonne.

Fortz chausa es que tot lo major dan (Gaucelm Faidit)
Somewhat younger than Guiraut Riquier was Gaucelm Faidit, born in Uzerche not far from Ventadom, the home of Bernart de Ventadorn (cf. CD 8 26486 2); in fact, Gaucelm was enamoured of Maria de Ventadorn discussed in the razos. He was a conservative poet, the vida says he had a very bad voice and the Monk of Montaudon tells us how small his sphere of influence was — so it is somewhat surprising that he should be the author of the most famous troubadour planctus, this on the death of Richard the Lion-hearted. Richard died, it will be recalled, 1199 during a minor struggle with one of his vassals; Richards insignificant death did not distract from his significant life: it was Richard who was a match for Saladin in the 'Outre Mer', and his accomplishments there towards restoring Western influence were greater than any other leader, including his enemy Philip Augustus. It had been the news in 1187 of the fall of Jerusalem that sent him off along with Frederick Barbarossa and Philip, and it was in 1190 that he set off, one year after his coronation as the English king (for Faidit he was certainly better known as the Duke of Aquitaine).

Tristor et cuncti tristantur
Tristor et cuncti tristantur is an excerpt from the so-called Bordesholm Lament, which was regularly performed at the cloister of Bordesholm (near Kiel in northern Germany) on Good Friday or on Monday of Holy Week. It lasted 2 1/2 hours. Several of the sections of this work which resembles a Passion or Passion Play, (employ melodies known to the secular sphere: the one selected here
is that melody employed by Walther von der Vogelweide for his Palaestina song, Nu aler erst..., a melody that Walther adopted from the troubadour song of Jaufre Rudel, Lanquan li jorn.



Concerning the Interpretation:

More and more it is the tendency in the performance of medieval music to rely somewhat on instinct where the facts run out. This ought not to be a license for unsubstantiated music-making (although I feel it often is), but ought be viewed as a necessary challenge. One unfortunate result of this however, is that it is difficult in the extreme to keep the listener informed of the substance of the musical position, with the result that much is misunderstood. What may seem to the listener a minor sixth chord may be in reality the result of the drone strings on that particular instrument, and what may seem rambling improvisation may really be a detailed expansion of tones according to a clear discipline.

So I feel it might be of interest to the listener to have pointed out here that the opening of the Planctus Cigne is a Lydian scale (transposed) encompassing the tones of the melody to come, and followed by suggestions of subjects such as a descending fourth as a swan symbol (from the melody at the word cigni), that the accompaniment derives from musical symbols contained in the melody, such as the weaving through three or four notes in the lament beginning with line 5, leading to the resolution at 'dulcimodo cantitans' and the swan's return to land.

Such an approach is not employed in the four planctus from Las Huelgas, where symbolism takes a back seat to basic musical materials of mode and imitation, drone and structure.

Still another approach is employed in the naive Bordesholmer planctus, where it is the tuning of the instrument, drones plus a single melody string, that dictates the tone combinations.

And finally the two troubadour songs are treated as I would any straight-forward troubadour songs, connecting the character of the instrument with the expression of the text, by drawing attention to specific tones and intervals that I feel are of particular importance in the song.

The instruments employed include two sorts of medieval lute, lira, vielle, chitarra saracenica, rabel morisco.

Thomas Binkley

Sources:
Kiel. Univ. Bibl. Mscr. 53 4° (Bordesholmer Marienklage)
Las Huelgas, Codex musical (facs. ed. H.Anglés)
Milano, Bibl. Ambrosiana R 71 sup. (Manuscript G, ed. Sessini)
Paris, B. N. lat. 887 (Limoges, St. Martin)
Paris, B. N. n. a. lat. 1084 (Limoges, St. Martin)
Paris, B. N. f. fr. 22543 (Manuscript R)







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