Guillaume de MACHAUT. Virelais, ballades et rondeaux
Mon chant vous envoy
Marc Mauillon, Angélique Mauillon, Vivabiancaluna Biffi, Pierre Hamon



IMAGEN

Eloquentia 1342
2012





virelai
1. Quant je suis mis au retour  [2:47]
MM, PH, MG, harpe, vièle, frestel, luth

virelai
2. Comment qu'à moy lonteinne  [4:42]
MM, AM, VB, harpe, vièle, flûte double, luth, organetto

rondeau
3. Puisqu'en oubli suis de vous, dous amis  [2:06]
AM, VB, MM

ballade
4. J'aim mieux languir  [2:38]
harpe

ballade
5. Plourez, dames, plourez vostre servant  [7:32]
MM, VB, vièle

virelai
6. Dou mal qui m'a longuement  [4:12]
MM, harpe, ceterina

rondeau
7. Dix et sept, cinq, trese, quatorse et quinse  [3:35]
MM, VB, harpe

virelai
8. Dame, vostre ous viaire  [6:06]
MM, harpe, vièle, flûte traversière

ballade
9. Phyton, le mervilleus serpent  [6:13]
MM, vièle, harpe

ballade
10. Amours me fait désirer (texte)  [2:16]
MM (voix récitée), luth

ballade
11. Amours me fait désirer  [4:41]
VB, vièle, flûte à bec

virelai
12. Se ma dame m'a guerpi  [4:36]
MM, flûte traversière

13. Et musique est une science  [1:14]
organetto

prologue
14. Loyauté weil tous jours  [0:42]
MM · voix parlée

virelai
15. Liement me déport  [5:39]
harpe, vièle, ceterina, organetto, flûtes à trois trous et tambour, tambourin

virelai
16. J'aim sans penser laidure  [2:11]
MM, vièle, harpe, luth, flûtes à trois trous et tambour, organetto, tambourin


IMAGEN


Marc Mauillon, voix MM—1, 2, 3, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 12, 14, 16

Vivabiancaluna Biffi, voix VB—2, 3, 7, 11, et vièle—1, 2, 8, 9, 11, 15, 16
Angélique Mauillon, harpe—1, 2, 4, 6, 7, 8, 9, 15, 16 et voix AM—2, 3
Pierre Hamon, flûte médiéval à bec—11, flûte médiéval traversière—8, 12,
flûte double—2, flûtes à trois trous et tambour—15, 16, frestel—1, voix PH—1, et
direction musicale


Michaël Grébil, luth—1, 2, 6, 10, 16, ceterina—6, 15 et voix MG—1
Catalina Vicens, organetto—2, 13, 15, 16
Carlo Rizzo, tambourin—15, 16



Recorded in july 2012 at the Fondation Laborie en Limousin, Limoges, France
Producer engineer & editing: Laurence Heym

Liner notes by Elizabeth Eva Leach & Pierre Hamon
Translation by Doriane Heym (Franšais) & Mary Pardoe (English)
Cover photo @ Doriane Heym


IMAGEN


'How is it that more than seven hundred years later these sequences of notes can have such an impact? This is a mystery to me. Although the original lyrics often seem overwrought, the music is extraordinarily fresh. The melodies and harmonies are far from today's classical music conventions, yet they speak even more directly and profoundly'.

Robert Sadin

in the introduction to the magnificent album 'Art of Love: Music of Machaut' (Robert Sadin, with an extraordinary array of contemporary artists, including Mark Feldman, Hassan Hakmoun, John Ellis, Madeleine Peyroux, Nathalie Merchant, Lionel Loueke, Brad Mehldau, Milton Nascimento, Cyro Baptista); Deutsche Grammophon, 2010.




Ce mystère «Machaut», qui ne cesse de nous fasciner également, nous a incités, dans nos deux précédents enregistrements, L'Amoureus tourment et Le Remède de Fortune, à l'exploration de formes longues comme le lai et la complainte, où la poésie et la musique naturelle des mots nous ont convaincus de l'importance de donner à entendre ces œuvres dans leur intégralité, la poésie étant en constant dialogue avec la mélodie, l'une éclairant l'autre.

S'il est vrai que Guillaume de Machaut appelle lui-même vieille et nouvelle forge les anciennes et nouvelles manières de composer, notre intuition est que la modernité du chanoine de Reims n'est peut-être pas là où on l'attend généralement - à savoir, dans un avant-gardisme du contrepoint et de la polyphonie et dans la complexité de son écriture. Sa véritable «modernité», ou plutôt son humanité dans les émotions, les questions qu'il pose sur la vie, l'amour, la création artistique, se révèle peut-être encore mieux dans ses chansons.

Guillaume de Machaut, célébré en son temps à la fois comme le plus grand poète et le plus grand compositeur français du XlVe siècle, a malheureusement, par un revers de fortune, souffert de ce double statut qu'il est le dernier à posséder. Lors de sa redécouverte au XIXe siècle, puis au cours du XXe siècle, «le dernier trouvère» a été analysé et étudié comme poète dans les cercles littéraires, bien sûr inaptes à considérer sa musique, ou comme compositeur extrêmement savant par les musicologues et compositeurs d'avant-garde, fascinés par sa science du contrepoint. Un intérêt initial disproportionné (selon les termes de la musicologue Elizabeth Eva Leach, qui nous a fait l'honneur d'écrire la présentation de ce disque) pour sa Messe, ainsi que pour les structures rythmiques complexes de ses motets, où la présence simultanée de plusieurs textes, et donc la difficulté de saisir et d'entendre clairement la poésie, a contribué á faire attribuer la célébrité de Machaut d'abord à sa virtuosité de compositeur, et à fausser son image.

Certes, notre univers culturel est très éloigné de celui de Machaut, qui a pour références Boèce, la mythologie antique, le Roman de la rose, etc. Mais, comme aujourd'hui, le XlVe siècle est une époque inquiète bouleversée par de grandes catastrophes (grande peste), instable, avec, dans les arts vivants, le passage de l'oralité au livre - plus qu'aucun autre, Machaut y est particulièrement sensible, lui qui veille lui-même à la facture et à l'enluminure de ses manuscrits. C'est une époque où le livre est un nouveau média. On peut le lire publiquement ou dans l'intimité de la chambre, admirer ses enluminures, en extraire, pour le chanter, un lai, une ballade ou un virelai, danser sur ce dernier, ou encore tout simplement lire les poèmes à voix haute ou en silence, mentalement - ce qui est par ailleurs une pratique encore récente au XlVe siècle.

Nous sommes convaincus de l'intemporalité de ces œuvres, et en particulier de ces petites «chansons balladées». Ce qui nous touche aujourd'hui, en écoutant et en chantant Machaut, c'est peut-être, avant tout, le pouvoir de consolation de la musique, qui agit sur l'âme du poète, dont les paroles s'avèrent étonnamment proches de notre sensibilité. La musique réchauffe et «réjouit» un cœur inquiet qui interroge le destin, les mystères du sort et les tourments de l'amour.

Partout ou elle est, joie y porte;
Les desconfortez reconforte,
Et nes seulement de l'oïr.
Fait elle les gens resjoir.

Pierre Hamon



IMAGEN

Guillaume de Machaut (c.1300-1377) was the foremost poet and composer of fourteenth-century France. He was an extraordinary creative artist, who by the middle decades of the fourteenth century had already composed a substantial body of literary and musical works, to which he added until his death in 1377. His contemporaries recognized him as one of the greatest writers of his day and his reputation as a poet lasted for some time after his death, which was commemorated in music and poetry. He was patronized by royalty and his works were performed and read throughout Europe. His narrative poems marry clerkly didacticism with the most fashionable traditions in love poetry, and they develop a first-person narrative persona that greatly influenced Chaucer, Froissart, Christine de Pizan, and other vernacular authors. Unlike those poets, however, he set more than a hundred of his own lyrics to music, helping to establish the lyrico-musical forms of balade, rondeau, and virelai, which, by the end of the century, came to be called the formes fixes. He also wrote expansive polytextual motets in a fashion pioneered by his contemporary Philippe de Vitry, which modern musicology calls "ars nova." Machaut's is also the first surviving polyphonic setting of the cycle of the Mass ordinary that is known to be by a single composer. In terms of number of lines, his narrative verse places him among the most prolific poets of his age. More musical pieces survive by him than are known to be by any other French composer of this period. His training for being a court secretary may have been formative in his practice of a distinctly scribal authorial poetics, which led him to oversee the copying of his own works: his complete works survive in several large manuscripts from his lifetime, some of which seem to have been prepared to Machaut's own specifications. These sources advance the artistic use of the book for vernacular poetry, making play with mise-en-page, internal cross-referencing and paratextual features such as indexes and rubrics. Machaut's works can be seen as the logical conclusion of the troubadour and trouvère tradition in which scribal reverence for a body of works has been exercised not by later collectors but by the author himself. If he didn't invent it, Machaut certainly bolstered and enshrined the idea of the vernacular author-figure, complete with a problematic and ironic relationship to his own poetry's truth-value. For Machaut, written authorship directs both the oral arts: poetry and music. At no other point in time was a single person so central to the histories of both European literature and European music in all its then-current genres.

Despite his reputation and the sizeable body of works that he has left, the more workaday details that pertain to the man behind the artist are hard to extract. We have a good number of luxury manuscripts of Machaut's work, most now available for viewing online (see the list at http://www.stanford.edu/group/dmstech/cgi-bin/drupal/machautmss). The archival evidence is more scanty, mostly pertaining to monetary aspects of Machaut's life such as employment, patronage, taxation, and the receipt of gifts. But a large number of fairly basic questions remain. The dates of Machaut's birth and death are unknown. His birthplace, early schooling, training, and route into the service of his only known employer, King John of Bohemia, remain obscure, as does the precise employment in which he engaged after John's death in 1346.

As a poet, Machaut is important but far from unique -- the aspect of his work that differentiates him from his contemporaries is the central role of music within his literary output. Machaut was not incidentally "also a composer" -- his music is not a meaningless ornament to his lyrics. Instead, as the importance of Orpheus to Machaut's narratives of desire, love, loss, and mourning shows, his music transforms his lyric. Music's performative reading of poetry, its links to human emotion, and its place as a very specific kind of knowledge in medieval society, allowed Machaut to go beyond his contemporaries in responding to the needs of his readers for entertaining edification and effective consolation in the central matters of life, love, and death.

Most of the tracks on this disc are performances of Machaut's virelais, a genre that Machaut preferred to term chanson baladée ("danced song"). The form is a simple one, but flexible enough to sustain a wide variety of verse forms and the music is often monophonic and memorable. We can imagine the kind of situation described in Machaut's Remede de Fortune where the lover sings a virelai with his lady and her courtiers in a round dance on the meadow outside her chateau. Virelais start with a refrain and then proceed to a pair of verses before returning to the music of the refrain, but with new words (the "tierce"). When they hear the familiar music of the refrain with the tierce text, the courtiers dancing will be in no doubt when the tierce finishes (because they know the tune), so they know exactly when to join back in for the refrain again.

The present disc contains a reading from Machaut's so-called Prologue, a confection of illuminations, lyrics, and narrative poetry which he wrote late in his life to stand at the head of the manuscript of his collected works. The Prologue mentions all the genres of song that follow it in the manuscripts. It can be understood as a statement of the author's musical poetics designed as a key to his entire output, specifically discussing the role of emotional authenticity—sentement—in the creation of musical lyrics. This emotion can be seen throughout the songs here, especially in Machaut's Ploures, dames (B32) a kind of auto-testament, in which the je threatens to die if the ladies of the court don't take care of him. The music sets the doleful words to jaunty dance-like triple rhythms, here lacking the joyfulness that they would normally have as a way of depicting the malady of the singer. Angular lines, leaps to sharpened notes, and sudden held sonorities all add to the sense that something is not quite right, while at the same time giving a warped window onto the ordinarily joyful song that the ladies will be deprived of if they don't rescue the je from death's door.

Ploures, dames (B32) is one of Machaut's balades, a serious high-style composition in a direct stylistic descent from the grand chant of the trouvères. Of the other balades on this disc, the late Phyton (B38) most clearly shows the seriousness of this lyric genre, since it draws on the tale of Phiton, the serpent, from the Ovide moralisé, which it adapts to depict the lady's many-headed forms of rejection of the je's love. In Amour me fait desirer (B19) the personified Amours makes the lover desire and love so that he is unable to hope or think. The poem is here read aloud as recitation and then performed musically, enabling the listener to appreciate the additional layers of meaning that the music supplies. Both "desirer / Et amer" and "esperen / Ne penser" have the same music, making an aural parallel between the cause of grief (desire) and its cure (hope). Musically, Love makes the singer "desire" too. The counterpoint setting the opening word, "Amours," forces the singer to perform a very unusual melodic interval at the outset of the piece, from G to c#, offering a strange bisection of the overall G to g octave range of the first phrase. This c# has contrapuntal "appetite," or "desire," for resolution to d. Ultimately, Machaut's music becomes the ultimate surrogate for erotic desire and means of achieving a serene life.

Elizabeth Eva LEACH



IMAGEN