Author Topic: Festival Amuz 2018  (Read 630 times)

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Offline Mandryka

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Festival Amuz 2018
« on: August 18, 2018, 07:57:59 AM »
I've just got back from a couple of days in Antwerp, I went there because I wanted to hear Cappella Pratensis sing Obrecht's Missa Maria Zart. Imagine my surprise when I found that there's a full blown long festival of early polyphonic music happening there, with people coming from all over Flanders and beyond for weeks to catch groups like Huelgas Ensemble, Marc Mauillon, Style Antico . . . It's true that the Amuz people mailed me an email in Flemish last week which may mention the festival. Even now I can't find a calendar online for it in English, French, Flemish or German. But I can assure you that it is taking place and that it's fabulous.

I ended up seeing two things, the aforementioned Obrecht and a concert by Huelgas Ensemble, consisting of  motets between 1400 and 1600, based on Paul van Nevel’s new book Het landschap van de polyfonisten, which as far as I can see is only available in Dutch,  it comes with a CD and if it's anything like the concert, it's well worth having. If anyone buys the book I hope they can upload the CD to me.

What a brilliant sound the Huelgas Ensemble make live! The concert was chronological, given in the round in a baroque church, and was accompanied by some projections of tasteful and rather attractive landscape photography of Wallonia and Flanders. Here's one

And here's the programme

Het landschap van de polyfonisten:
de wereld van de Franco-Flamands
1. Johannes Symonis Hasprois       Haspres ca.1360-Rome 1428
            Ma douce amour   virelai  à 3

2. Reginaldus Liebert  omgeving Kamerijk ca.1395-Kamerijk nà 1435
            Alleluia. Ora pro nobis     à 3

3. Antoine Busnois    Busnes ca.1430-Brugge 1492
            Bel Acueil        rondeau  à 1, 2 & 3

4. Johannes Ockeghem    St.-Ghislain ca.1420-Tours 1497
            Sanctus uit de “Missa Caput”  à 4

5. Josquin Desprez   St. Sauveur (?) ca.1455-Condé-sur-l’Escaut 1521
            a. Du mien amant      chanson à 5
            b. Agnus Dei uit de “Missa Malheur me bat”   à 4, 2 & 6

6. Antoine de Févin     Atrecht ca.1470-Blois ca.1511
            Lamentaties voor Witte Donderdag, Lectio Primo  à 4

7. Jean Mouton   Samer ca. 1459-St.-Quentin 1522
            a. Qui ne regrettoit le gentil Févin     lamento  à 4
            b. Nesciens Mater     motet à 8

8. Nicolle des Celliers de Hesdin    Hesdin ca.1490-Beauvais 1538
              Parasti in dulcedine tua       motet à 5

9. Jean l’Héritier         bisdom Teerenburg ca.1480-Avignon ca.1552
                 Locutus est Dominus      motet à 9
10. Josquin Baston      Artois ca.1495-ca.1550
             Ung souvenir me conforte     chanson  à 5

11. Pierre de Manchicourt   Béthune ca. 1510-Madrid 1564
             Agnus Dei uit de “Misa Veni Sancte Spiritus”    à 6

12. Nicolas Gombert    La Gorgue  ca.1495-Tournai ca. 1560
           a. O Malheureuse journee    chanson à 5
           b. Agnus Dei uit de “Missa Tempore Paschali”   à 6 & 12

 The concert was interesting because you could hear a sort of arch of style. The very early motets, up to and including Busnois,  were interesting harmonically, full of dissonances. The opening piece, by Johannes Symonis Hasprois called  Ma douce amour has been recorded before by Munrow and La Reverdie, but I can assure you, it has nothing on what Nevel did with it! Nevel made it into great, challenging music. The central and main section the harmonies were less interesting I thought and the textures thickened.  And then suddenly, we were presented with a wonderful piece by Mouton, Qui ne regrettoit le gentil Févin, and the voices become clear and independent, and when they clash they do so expressively. I suppose this is the transition from renaissance to baroque style.

Anyway, even if the above is unsustainable, the concert was full of stimulating food for thought.

The first concert was Cappella Pratensis. This group consists of eight men dressed in black and a book. The book, which is about A1 size, is a new edition of the Obrecht mass that they've prepared with great care. They're proud of it, and it's treated very dramatically  -- at the end, they line up for a bow, and the partition is presented to the audience too, as if it's as much part the ensemble as the singers. I thought that was a wonderful symbolic gesture.

They all crowd round the score and sing, their faces hidden by the enormous book. The "concert" started just before dusk, and by the time we were on to the Credo the light had fallen, the church was dim apart from a spotlight on the singers. Unforgettable.

I was surprised by how much variety there is in the mass, sometimes the high voices dominated, sometimes the deeper ones. The Gloria and the Agnus Dei were particularly moving and exciting. To be honest, in the credo, my attention wondered.

There was a certain amount of theatricality. After each section of the ordinarium they moved to a corner of the church and sang a chorale, and before they sang a little marian motet, I don't know who by, which of course, broke up Obrecht's music. But theatricality isn't the right word. What was I seeing? A performance? A ritual? A prayer? I suppose it is what it is, its category is none of those things, or all. Anyway, more food for thought there.

One thing I kept thinking during both concerts is how cruel and bloody the world was between 1400 and 1600, and yet this is hardly shown at all in the music. It shows, I guess, that renaissance sacred music is really about the contemplation of beauty and order, divine beauty and order. I'm close to thinking it's a limitation, and that for me, a 21st century atheist, the really alien music is not medieval or modern, but renaissance.

This is a great way to discover a city, because it takes you to obscure ancient churches tucked away in narrow streets. I've known Antwerp since the 1980s, I've always liked it very much, I like the Flems, but I'd never seen these churches before and it shone new light on an special city. I intend to go to more festivals like this.

« Last Edit: August 19, 2018, 05:42:11 AM by Mandryka »
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Online pjme

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Re: Festival Amuz 2018
« Reply #1 on: August 27, 2018, 11:20:04 AM »

if only I had known...I live in Antwerp. Good to read that you enjoyed the city and the music.

I went to the closing concert : Monteverdi's Orfeo.The venue, a 19th century "bonbonnière" - has nothing of a Mantuan palazzo
but is still a good place for a small scale opera.

Since I was only able to register again today...we'll have to wait for a year?!