Author Topic: Paul van Nevel and Huelgas Ensemble  (Read 4373 times)

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Offline Mandryka

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Re: Paul van Nevel and Huelgas Ensemble
« Reply #20 on: September 03, 2018, 09:11:14 PM »


The music on this 3rd disc of the set has an amazing background:

The French noble family De Lusignan came in possesion of the island of Cyprus after Guy de Lusignan, King of Jerusalem, bought it. Hence a French court on Cyprus, importing the French musical tradition and it became later a centre for the Ars Subtilior style. More on this HERE.

Cultural life reached its heights during the reign of King Janus. Janus's daughter Anna upon her marriage to Louis of Savoy, Count of Geneva, took with her a thick manuscript, written between 1413 and 1426, The Savoys later became kings of Italy and the manuscript ended up in the collection of the National Library of Turin, Italy. It consists of 159 folios containing over two hundred polyphonic compositions both sacred and secular.

This disc with a selection from the Turin manuscript did not impres me the most, nice, but sounds a bit off. Not the WOW factor of the Febus disc, it has beautiful moments but in general comes across as languid and not really engaging.

Researching the disc, this review from Gramophone explains why:

This is the oddest record I have heard in a long time. Paul van Nevel has always been a maverick, an unpredictable figure whose approach can seem, depending on your viewpoint, either astonishingly bold or thoroughly bizarre.
For a few years now the idea has been floating round—apparently pioneered by Ephraim Segerman, a courageous figure who refuses to let subjective musical judgements cloud his pursuit of logic—that we perform all our medieval and renaissance music several times too fast. It's a theory based on surviving documents but hard to believe. Anyway, Paul van Nevel here tries it out. The ballade "Si doulcement me fait amours vrais amans lasts" over 19 minutes, when it would normally last about seven minutes; needless to say that the words are entirely lost, though some passing dissonances become wonderful, long-drawn out scrunches; it's a very strange piece anyway. Just a single stanza of the ballade Si doulchement mon ceur lasts nearly six minutes; and thank heavens he didn't record the other two stanzas, because he has also chosen to pitch it so extraordinarily low that even the formidable Harry van der Kamp cannot hold the notes steadily and even the nonpareil Marius van Altena fails to keep the line moving: the sound is to my ears thoroughly and irredeemably unpleasant.
For the motet Personet armonia he chooses an ensemble of shawm and two trombones, but with a sopranino recorder doubling the tenor at the interval of two and a half octaves. Again, the theory of the thing seems easy to see, derived from organ registration; but organs are carefully balanced and good organists judge their registration by using their ears, which nobody seems to have done here (though I say 'seems' because the producer, Wolf Erichson, is probably the most experienced man in the business, world-wide).
On the other hand, the Gloria and the Credo sound wonderful: lucid, flowing, well balanced and above all full of vital musicianship. One explanation might be that in these pieces Paul van Nevel had just slipped out for a drink and left the singers to get on with it; but, on balance, I suspect that he is reminding us that he really can produce a musical performance along more accepted lines. Strictly for die-hard enthusiasts, then, or for those intrigued by the far-out. DF


So, Van Nevel took some eccentric decisions on the matter of tempo.  ::) :) I like the daring attitude and often, as will be evident in the rest of the set, it pays off. But maybe not quite so in this instance.

I definitely do like to hear more from the Cypriotic Turin manscript - Suggestions are welcome! :)
Van Nevel did another disc - see below - anyone able to comment on that? :)



Q

I think that review from Gramophone has one idea which is interesting - “needless to say that the words are entirely lost” I’m not sure if it’s true or if it matters.

I think since you heard it in 2011, the sensual style in 13th and 14th century music has become mainstream, think Tetraktys, Marc Mauillon, Ensemble Musica Nova, Graindelavoix . . .  Did it really come out of research by Ephraim Segerman?

Nevel’s current style seems very sensual to me - and very distinctively dreamy.
« Last Edit: September 03, 2018, 10:30:26 PM by Mandryka »
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Offline Que

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Re: Paul van Nevel and Huelgas Ensemble
« Reply #21 on: September 03, 2018, 09:23:54 PM »
I think that review from Gramophone has one idea which is interesting - “needless to say that the words are entirely lost” I’m not sure if it’s true or if it matters.

I think since you heard it in 2011, the sensual style in 13th and 14th century music has become mainstream, think Tetraktys, Marc Mauillon, Ensemble Musica Nova, Graindelavoix . . .  Did it really come out of research by Ephraim Segerman?

Nevel’s current style seems very sensual to me - and very distinctive my dreamy.

Now I'm definitely going to revist this recording.

I've heard a lot more Early Music since then... will report!  :)

Q

Offline Mandryka

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Re: Paul van Nevel and Huelgas Ensemble
« Reply #22 on: September 03, 2018, 09:27:54 PM »
Now I'm definitely going to revist this recording.

I've heard a lot more Early Music since then... will report!  :)

Q

As you can see, the concert I heard in Antwerp had a major effect on me!
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Offline Mandryka

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Re: Paul van Nevel and Huelgas Ensemble
« Reply #23 on: September 18, 2018, 06:56:34 AM »


Paul van Nevel has recorded Gombert’s Media Vita twice, once for Sony in 1992 and once in the CD which comes with his 2018 landscape book. It’s interesting to compare and contrast. The former is purer, the latter is more passionate, with glissandi and ornamentation and such like,  and a richer more intense set of vocal colours.

I much prefer the former.

I suspect that Van Nevel and Bjorn Schmelzer are friends, I think that they have collaborated on concerts. I sense a bit of influence here.
« Last Edit: September 18, 2018, 07:04:11 AM by Mandryka »
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Offline Mandryka

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Re: Paul van Nevel and Huelgas Ensemble
« Reply #24 on: September 18, 2018, 07:16:39 AM »
Now I'm definitely going to revist this recording.

I've heard a lot more Early Music since then... will report!  :)

Q

This has become a great favourite of mine, somehow it’s satisfying intellectually as well as emotionally.
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Offline Mandryka

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Re: Paul van Nevel and Huelgas Ensemble
« Reply #25 on: September 27, 2018, 04:08:37 AM »


What am I supposed to do with this? It’s like the du Caurroy fantasies, it’s too much for the CD experience somehow. I wonder what they were for. Maybe they’re the same genre as Bach’s Art of Fugue - thorough exploration of the possibilities of an idea.
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Offline (: premont :)

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Re: Paul van Nevel and Huelgas Ensemble
« Reply #26 on: September 27, 2018, 04:30:28 AM »


What am I supposed to do with this? It’s like the du Caurroy fantasies, it’s too much for the CD experience somehow. I wonder what they were for. Maybe they’re the same genre as Bach’s Art of Fugue - thorough exploration of the possibilities of an idea.


Maybe more like the GV.

BTW I agree that it is just too overwhelming to listen to all 32 La Spagna settings in one sitting.
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Offline Biffo

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Re: Paul van Nevel and Huelgas Ensemble
« Reply #27 on: September 27, 2018, 05:19:00 AM »


What am I supposed to do with this? It’s like the du Caurroy fantasies, it’s too much for the CD experience somehow. I wonder what they were for. Maybe they’re the same genre as Bach’s Art of Fugue - thorough exploration of the possibilities of an idea.

Apologies if I am telling you something you already know but I don't know what information is in the musique d'abord reissue. The original HM issue has an interesting essay by Paul van Nevel. There are 125 contrapuncti and PvN has selected 32 to record. A letter to a publisher from Festa mentions 'basse' and 'contrapuncti'. He says that 'the basse are useful for learning to sing in counterpoint, to compose and to play any kind of instrument'. There is no mention of the purpose of the contrapuncti except that Festa suggested they can also be sung although only two include a text.

Offline Mandryka

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Re: Paul van Nevel and Huelgas Ensemble
« Reply #28 on: September 27, 2018, 05:24:31 AM »
Apologies if I am telling you something you already know but I don't know what information is in the musique d'abord reissue. The original HM issue has an interesting essay by Paul van Nevel. There are 125 contrapuncti and PvN has selected 32 to record. A letter to a publisher from Festa mentions 'basse' and 'contrapuncti'. He says that 'the basse are useful for learning to sing in counterpoint, to compose and to play any kind of instrument'. There is no mention of the purpose of the contrapuncti except that Festa suggested they can also be sung although only two include a text.

Again, thank you very much. I don't have van Nevel's essay.

I'm about to pose you another question in the thread on chants.
« Last Edit: September 27, 2018, 05:34:34 AM by Mandryka »
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Offline Mandryka

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Re: Paul van Nevel and Huelgas Ensemble
« Reply #29 on: September 27, 2018, 05:33:34 AM »

Maybe more like the GV.


Ha, I just saw this



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Offline (: premont :)

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Re: Paul van Nevel and Huelgas Ensemble
« Reply #30 on: September 27, 2018, 06:07:11 AM »
Ha, I just saw this



Well, a coincidence. It was your mentioning of the AoF which made me associate to the GV.
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Offline Mandryka

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Re: Paul van Nevel and Huelgas Ensemble
« Reply #31 on: September 27, 2018, 07:20:05 PM »


BTW I agree that it is just too overwhelming to listen to all 32 La Spagna settings in one sitting.

Yes but it really is very good music. I wonder if Van Nevel the only person to have recorded any of it.
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Offline Mandryka

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Re: Paul van Nevel and Huelgas Ensemble
« Reply #32 on: September 28, 2018, 02:29:24 AM »
Found it!

Quote
Like so many of his colleagues, Costanzo Festa, singer in the papal choir and legendary composer, did his best to interest music publishers in his works, since pieces that reached print always brought in additional revenue. In that respect, times have not changed at all... In his search for a publishing house, Festa wrote to his Florentine patron Filippo Strozzi in September 1536, asking him to contact a Venetian publisher:

...Intendere che se vole le mie oppere cio e li hymni li magnificat chio non voglio mancho de cento et cinquanta scuti et se vole le basse docento in tutto. ...Le basse sono bone per imparare a cantar a comptraponto a componere et a sonar de tutti li strumenti.

(Give him to understand that if he wants my works, that is the hymns and Magnificats, I require not less than 150 scudi; if he wants the basse as well, that will be 200 in all....The basse are useful for learning to sing in counterpoint, to compose and to play any kind of instrument.)

Two years later, the Venetian senate acceded to a petition (125 votes in favour, 4 against and 4 abstentions) which ran as follows:

Humilmente si supplica vostra serenita si degni conceder al fidelissimo et molto virtu-oso, Domino Constantino Festa musico, et cantore di Nostro Signore ch'el possi far stampar It sue opere di musica, cio e messe, motteti, madrigati, basse, contraponti, lamentation... con privilegio che akun altro per anni X non possi imprimer.. .

(Your Serene Highness is humbly begged to allow the most faithful and most virtuoso Master Constantino Festa, musician and singer of Our Lord, to have printed his works of music, that is masses, motets, madrigals, basses, counter-points, lamentations...by privilege, so that no-one else may print them for a period of ten years.)

The `basse' and `contrapunti' mentioned here are those that we perform in the present recording: these contrapuncti in several voices (from two to twelve) are based on a well-known cantus firmus (a melody in long note-values, in this case breves). The contrapuncti were in fact never published, and were forgot-ten for the rest of the sixteenth century. Yet less than a hundred years later, they begin to be mentioned once more. In 1622 the Italian composer and theorist Ludovico Zacconi wrote his treatise Prattica di musica. In the second part, which deals with counterpoint, he illus-trates the concept of 'reversible counterpoint' with an example on a cantus firmus, which he wrongly attributes to Costanzo Festa. He continues:

...Nota che it superior Canto fermo di Breve chiamandosi Bascia, non ho potuto investigare per che lo chiami cosi, ed habbia tal denominatione, se non che; un di ragionando io con un profossor (sic) di Musica mi disse, avertite, che debb'essere un certo Canto fermo, sopra it quale itpredetto Costanzo Festa fice una volta cento e venti Contrapunti. Cosa che li Scolare li potessero havere, utilissimo li sarebbe partirli per impararvi sopra molte belle cose che dentro vi debbano esser contessute e nascoste...

(It will be noted that the above cantus firmus in breves is called `Bascia'. I have been unable to discover why it is so named; however, one day, when I was in discussion with a professor of music, he told me that it must be a certain cantus firmus on which the aforesaid Costanzo Festa once wrote one hundred and twenty contrapuncti. This is something that the scholar should possess, and it would be very useful to set the said works out in score so that such students may learn the many fine things that they must certainly contain within them.)

 Zacconi is clearly referring here to the same basse and contrapuncti that Festa mentioned in his letters a century before. But he does not know who is the composer of the bascia, nor the origin of the term. We know today what Zacconi and his contemporaries did not: the cantus firmus that Festa used as a spur to his unbridled contrapuntal imagination was none other than the tenor of a celebrated basse danse, known since the fifteenth century under the names La basse danse de Spayn, Tenore del re di Spagna or, more succinctly, La Spagna. This melody in long note values was used by musicians playing dance music as a cantus firmus on which they based their improvisations. According to the version used and the number of repetitions of notes, it consists of between 35 and 44 breves. The version invariably used by Festa in all his contrapuncti (but not composed by himself) contains 37 notes:

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Zacconi talks of 120 compositions, but this figure should be taken as an approximation, since he himself never actually saw them, and we may suppose that the professor with whom he spoke mentioned 'around 120 pieces'. Although they were discussed and written about in the Renaissance period, Festa's contrapuncti and basse were never published, as we have seen. But there is a manuscript in the Biblioteca Civico Museo Bibliografico Musicale in Bologna catalogued as C36, with the following intriguing title: Cento cinquantasette contrapunti sopra de canto fermo intitolato La Base di Costanzo Festa opera di Gioan Maria Nanino da Vallerano (One hundred and fifty-seven contrapuncti on a cantus firmus entitled La Base by Costanzo Festa, written by Gioan Maria Nanino of Vallerano.) The works contained in this manu-script were copied from a lost original by one Pietro Martire Balzani. Folio 128 carries the indication 'finis 1602 Mantuae Die 23, Octobris'. The title page thus implies: (1) that the cantus firmus on which the works in question were based is by Costanzo Festa; (2) that the contrapuncti are by Giovanni Maria Nanino, a singer and composer in the papal choir who lived from 1545 to 1607. These two statements were only refuted right at the end of the twentieth century. As to the first point, we know today that the cantus firmus is not by Festa, and is in fact the famous La Spagna theme. And as far as the composer of the pieces is concerned, it has now been established that 125 contrapuncti are by Festa, and the remainder by Nanino. For this recording 32 of these 125 contrapuncti have been selected.


The irresistible mastery of Festa's 125 Contrapunti

The cycle of 125 variations that Costanzo Festa composed on a single cantus firmus of 37 notes is conceived on a scale unique during the Renaissance, and may justly be described as a tour de force. This is due not so much to Festa's technical ingenuity — although this is indeed peerless — as to the inexhaustible artistic invention which makes of each contrapunctus a surprising entity in itself. In this respect, the cycle has the same kind of inner force later to be found in Bach's Goldberg Variations.

Festa did not make things easy for himself. The Tenore del re di Spagna runs right through the cycle from beginning to end as a constant presence. Each variation begins with the first note of the cantus firmus and ends with its last note. Festa never allows the Spagna motif a moment's respite: all through the 125 contrapuncti, there is not a single bar that does not include one note of it. This basse-dance de Spayn thus constitutes an audible, ever-present vault span-ning each contrapunctus.

In all the contrapuncti, Festa employs the cantus firmus in its original form. So it is all the more surprising that these incessant repetitions still result in melodic invention of great richness and great diversity of mood. Nor does Festa depart from the rhythmic scheme of the cantus firmus — unlike Nanino, incidentally. 121 of the contrapuncti retain the succession of breves of the La Spagna theme (see the music example above).

But if Festa is strict in his handling of the cantus firmus, he treats his own counterpoint with capricious freedom. Each one of the variations is brimming with creative inspiration, seconded by magisterial command of technique. Also striking is the way Festa pushes back the compositional limits where a normal brain would have considered the potential was exhausted. Hence his obsessive ostinatos do not indicate any lack of inspiration but, on the contrary, an ingenuity that never stops functioning. Proportions and quotations (for example the la-sol-fil-re-mi motif taken from a Josquin mass) are among his `basic' materials.

Another technique of which he makes groundbreaking use is that of soggetto cavato. This procedure consists in translating the vowels in a word or a name into the corresponding notes in the Guidonian hexachord. In contrapunctus 104 (variation 28), the upper voice is an ostinato on E-F-D-A (mi-fa-re-la), derived from the vowels of the name of the Queen of Spain (I sAbE 11  A). The tenor is on the ostinato D-E-F-C (re-mi-fa-ut), derived from f-E-r-d-i-n-A-n-d-U-s, with the whole combined with La Spagna. A true homage to the royal house of Spain!

Another example of Festa's art: in contrapunctus 88 (variation 5), a four-voice variation, each part is built on a single note value. The cantus consists wholly 16 17
of semibreves, the altus of semiminims, the tenor (cantus firmus) moves in breves and the bass in minims. The juxtaposition of these four different rhyth-mic units creates a decidedly bizarre sound picture.

In the letter quoted at the beginning of this article, Festa affirms that the cycle can be played on instruments of all descriptions, and can also be sung. The latter hypothesis is a strange one, given that only two of the contrapuncti include a text, and even then only in one or two voices (the cantus firmus itself never possessed a text). Festa probably imagined that the pieces could be sung to the note-names of the hexachord.

In this recording we have confined ourselves to the more straightforward instrumental option. We have applied the principle of the 'whole consort' (the same instrumental timbre in all parts) in alternation with the 'broken consort' (a mixture of instrumental timbres) in our resurrection of this sixteenth-century 'Musical Offering'.


PAUL VAN NEVEL Translation: Charles Johnston
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Offline Mandryka

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Re: Paul van Nevel and Huelgas Ensemble
« Reply #33 on: October 06, 2018, 01:45:09 AM »


I just discovered this when investigating recordings of Obrecht’s settings of Salve Regina, it is very good indeed, with major motets by familiar composers like Willaert, Lassus, Sweelinck, Dufay etc. Track list here

http://www.medieval.org/emfaq/cds/nmc92064.htm

Van Nevel also recordeda disc dedicated to Sweelinck with the Netherlands Chamber Choir which I vaguely remember was rather good. The tonality of the choir is sweet and smooth, quite distinctive.
« Last Edit: October 06, 2018, 01:51:00 AM by Mandryka »
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Offline Que

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Re: Paul van Nevel and Huelgas Ensemble
« Reply #34 on: October 12, 2018, 11:53:44 PM »
« Last Edit: October 12, 2018, 11:56:23 PM by Que »

Offline Que

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Re: Paul van Nevel and Huelgas Ensemble
« Reply #35 on: July 20, 2020, 10:25:15 AM »
New issue - a 3CD set with live recordings:



Highlights from six concerts which the Huelgas Ensemble gave in 2019 at the first edition of their own festival in the Burgundian village of Talant. The village, which is only a few kilometres away from Dijon, offers with its magnificent late Romanesque church Notre-Dame a unique and acoustically outstanding setting for the annual Pentecost Festival.

https://www.jpc.de/jpcng/classic/detail/-/art/neapolitan-dreams/hnum/9511527?lang=en

Q
« Last Edit: July 20, 2020, 10:29:04 AM by Que »