PDF of programme available here
Inviolata: Josquin des Prez
Marian motets by Josquin des Prez (c1450/55-1521),
intabulated for solo lute by lutenist-composers old and new
Jacob Heringman (1964-)
Ave Maria…virgo serena
Hans Gerle (c1500-1570)
Inviolata, integra et casta es
part II Nostra ut pura pectora; part III O benigna
Ut Phoebi radiis/
Ut re mi fa sol la
part II Eia ergo, advocata nostra
part III Et Jesum benedictum
Simon Gintzler (c1500-after 1547)
part II Eia Mater
This year marks the 500th anniversary of the death of the greatest of
renaissance composers, Josquin des Prez (c1450/55-1521), and this concert
is one of many celebrating his legacy in 2021. Josquin’s output consists
almost entirely of vocal polyphony, and his much loved and oft performed
Marian motets are among the most powerful and memorable of his
compositions. For this concert programme, I have chosen five of these
motets. As John Potter writes in his booklet notes for my recent CD, in justly
celebrating this great choral legacy, we often fail to acknowledge “the many
intabulated sources (the so-called secondary sources), which show that his
music was enjoyed in countless different ways for many generations” long
after his death, “and in focusing so much on the choral origins of his works
we obscure the real performance history of his music”. Lute settings
(intabulations) of Josquin’s sacred and secular music appear in countless
manuscripts and printed books from all over Europe dating from an
exceptionally long period, spanning from well within Josquin’s lifetime to
the very end of the sixteenth century.
This relatively neglected repertoire of instrumental reworkings gives us a
valuable glimpse of the performance history of Josquin’s music, which is far
from being a history exclusively of a cappella performance.
Instrumentalists, whose stated aim in the renaissance was to emulate the
human voice, engaged with both words and music to create something new
but at the same time strikingly faithful to the spirit of the original material.
In settings such as Gintzler’s intabulation of Stabat mater, there is clear
evidence of attention to the words as well as to the contrapuntal musical
lines. Intabulations also provide valuable insight into the application of
musica ficta by actual sixteenth-century musicians, given the fact that
notating tablature requires making all of the modal decisions which singers
would have to make in performance.
Ave Maria…virgo serena does not appear in any sixteenth-century lute
source, and I have here essayed my own arrangement of this magnificent
motet, following the example and practice of my sixteenth-century
antecedents. It appears to have been something of a tradition to place an
Ave Maria at the very beginning of a music book in the sixteenth century,
so it seemed appropriate to begin my programme in the same way.
Inviolata, integra et casta es is presented here in Gerle’s 1533 setting; like
Ave Maria and Ut Phoebi, this piece requires the sixth course of the lute to
be tuned down a tone to capture the entire range of the piece, creating a
particularly rich texture.
Of Ut Phoebi radiis/Ut re mi fa sol la, also not intabulated in the sixteenth
century, John Potter writes: “The arranger has a choice of two texts to follow.
The words in the lower two voices are extremely simple, consisting of the
solfa syllables of the hexachord (which eventually became the major scale)
derived by Guido d’Arezzo from the chant Ut queant laxis resonare fibris
mira gestorum… (each line beginning a note higher than the previous one).
The main text sung by the two upper voices still baffles scholars, and may
have been composed for a meeting of the Order of the Golden Fleece, an
esoteric chivalric Marian order founded by Philip the Good.”
The remaining two pieces in the programme, Salve regina and Stabat
mater, are for the more standard renaissance lute tuning; like Inviolata,
they are in five parts, and are among Josquin’s most moving compositions.
Gintzler’s masterful Stabat mater setting is, like his numerous other
Josquin settings, deeply sensitive to Josquin’s vocal original. My own
setting of Salve regina is another attempt to implement sixteenth-century
intabulation and ornamentation practices. In so doing, I am attempting to
illustrate my own firm belief that playing sixteenth-century lute music in
the 21st century is (or should be) about more than simply playing lute music
from the time, taken from the sources of the time. If we want to get to the
heart of what lutenists did, it seems right to explore other essential aspects
of their practice, namely improvisation and the creation of new
arrangements of repertoire which is dear to our hearts.
Jacob Heringman, 2021