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Cour: French Courtly Songs from the Late 16th Century by Girard de Beaulieu, Pierre Guédron, Jean Boyer, Carroubel, Lorenzini, Costeley, Caiétain eta l. / Le Poème Harmonique

Notes & Reviews:

In this new release, Vincent Dumestre's Le Poème Harmonique once again immerses us in the France of the second half of the 16th century, which witnessed the emergence of new centres of artistic activity. These 'bourgeois' societies were initiated by patron princes concerned with building their prestige through the arts and letters just as much as by arms. At the same time, refined circles held by cultivated women enabled them to rub shoulders with the leading poets of the time, as well as musicians sensitive to humanist research, all profiting from a context propitious to the invention of new artistic forms and practices. The new, more lyrical poetry, inspired by both antiquity and contemporary Italian models, was matched, in particular, by the courtly air, a new musical genre perfectly adapted to the humanist ideals of sobriety and intelligibility of the text. Through this music, still insufficiently known, this programme invites us to discover a refined poetic and musical universe, witness to a French Renaissance at its apogee, with works by composers such as Pierre Cléreau, Guillaume Costeley, Adrian Le Roy, and Didier Le Blanc. As usual, Vincent Dumestre, uncontested master of these repertoires, has surrounded himself with the finest singers and instrumentalists, a loyal troupe that exhumes unusual musical treasures, letting us share in them.

American Record Guide, March/April 2016
The repertoire of airs de cour (court airs) was written in humanistic circles of late 16th Century France. Compared with the contemporary Italian madrigals by Marenzio and Gesualdo, the French airs sound much more reserved, especially in their predominantly homophonic style of setting texts. This collection includes airs especially associated with two noble families, the Guises and the Gondis, and it contains works by Girard de Beaulieu, Jean Boyer, Didier Le Blanc, Fabrice-Marin Caietain, Guillaume Costeley, Adrian Le Roy, and, especially, Pierre Guedron.

Interspersed among these rarified airs are dances by Pierre-Francisque Carroubel (arranged by Michael Praetorius) and a contrapuntal 'Fantasie' by a composer known only as Lorenzini. The booklet is very informative and contains the complete texts and translations, making this a very useful recording.


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