Johannes Ockeghem Complete Songs Vol. 1

by Blue Heron

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    This disc comes in an attractive 4-panel wallet-style format, with a CD sleeve. There is no plastic tray, which makes for a greener (and more lightweight) package).

    Besides eleven songs by Johannes Ockeghem (c.1420-1497), this disc includes two related works: the anonymous “En atendant vostre venue” from the recently-discovered Leuven Chansonnier (probably copied c. 1475 in the Loire Valley, where Ockeghem lived and worked), whose text borrows the first line of Ockeghem’s "Quant de vous seul", and "Au travail suis" by the composer Barbingant, which quotes both text and music from the opening of Ockeghem’s "Ma maistresse".

    Ockeghem was one of the most celebrated musicians of the fifteenth century and is one of the greatest composers of all time, every bit the equal of J.S. Bach in contrapuntal technique and profound expressivity, and like Bach able to combine the most rigorous intellectual structure with a beguiling sensuality. His two dozen songs set French lyric poetry in the courtly forms of the fifteenth century—rondeau, virelai, and ballade—to exquisitely crafted polyphony in which all voices are granted equally beautiful and compelling melodies.

    The CD booklet contains complete texts and translations and notes on the music and performance practice by Sean Gallagher (musicological adviser for "Ockeghem@600", Blue Heron’s project to perform the complete works of Johannes Ockeghem in a series of thirteen concert programs) and Blue Heron’s music director Scott Metcalfe.

    Includes unlimited streaming of Johannes Ockeghem Complete Songs Vol. 1 via the free Bandcamp app, plus high-quality download in MP3, FLAC and more.
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1.
Aultre Venus estes sans faille: Plus que nulle autre creature De corps, de beaulté, de figure La semblez et de mesmes taille. Celuy qui les amours detaille Peult de vous dire par droicture, Aultre Venus estes sans faille, Plus que nulle autre creature. Qui contredit j’offre bataille A oultrance et a desmesure, Maintenant qu’il vous fait injure Se le tiltre tel ne vous baille. Aultre Venus estes sans faille … You are another Venus, without doubt: more than any other creature in body, in beauty, in countenance you resemble her, and are of the same form. He who tallies loves’ details may rightly say of you, You are another Venus, without doubt, more than any other creature. To him who denies it I offer battle to the death and without limit, maintaining that he does you wrong if he does not grant you this title. You are another Venus, without doubt … Translation by Scott Metcalfe
2.
Quant de vous seul je pers la veue, De qui tant chiere suis tenue, Mon mal lors si tresfort m’assault Qu’a peu que le cueur ne me fault, Tant suis de douleur esperdue. Pour estre vostre devenue Plus que nul qui soit soubz la nue Toute ma joie me default Quant de vous seul je pers la veue, De qui tant chiere suis tenue: Mon mal lors si tresfort m’assault. Dont je voi bien que je suis nue De tous biens comme beste mue A qui de plus riens il ne chault, Car je scais bien qu’estre me fault Seulle de tous biens despourveue Quant de vous seul je pers la veue … When I lose sight of you alone by whom I am held so dear, my pain then assails me so very strongly that my heart nearly breaks, so overcome am I by sorrow. Since I have become yours more than anyone under the heavens, all my joy fails me When I lose sight of you alone by whom I am held so dear: my pain then assails me so very strongly. Then I see well that I am stripped of all good things, like a dumb beast to whom nothing matters any longer, for I know well that I must be alone, deprived of all good things, When I lose sight of you alone … Translation by Scott Metcalfe
3.
En atendant vostre venue, Mon bien que je desire tant, Une heure me dure bien cent Quant de vous seul je pers la veue. Bien souvent seullete, esperdue, Je passe mon temps en pleurant En atendant vostre venue, Mon bien que je desire tant. Mais bon Espoir m’a maintenue Et de son bon gré m’asseurant Que je vous reverray briefment, Qui en joye m’a entretenue. En atendant vostre venue … While awaiting your return, my dear one whom I so desire, one hour feels like a hundred when I lose sight of you alone. Very often, alone, desperate, I pass my time in weeping While awaiting your return, my dear one whom I so desire. But good Hope has sustained me through her good will, assuring me that I will soon see you again, and so has maintained me in joy. While awaiting your return … Translation by Scott Metcalfe
4.
Ma maistresse et ma plus grant amye, De mon desir la mortelle ennemye, Parfaicte en biens s’onques maiz le fut femme, Celle seulle de qui court bruit et fame D’estre sans per: ne vous verray je mye? Helas, de vous bien plaindre me devroie, S’il ne vous plaist que brefvement vous voye, M’amour, par qui d’aultre aymer n’ay puissance. Car sans vous voir, en quelque part que soye, Tout ce que voys me desplaist et ennoye, Ne jusque alors je n’auray souffisance. Incessammant mon dolent cueur larmye Doubtant qu’en vous Pitié soit endormye. Que ja ne soit, ma tant amée dame! Maiz s’ainsy est, si malheureux me clame Que plus ne quiers vivre heure ne demye. Ma maistresse et ma plus grant amye … My mistress and my greatest friend, mortal enemy of my desire, perfect in good qualities, if ever a woman was, she alone whom repute and fame hold to be without peer: will I never see you ever? Alas! I should rightly complain of you if it does not please you that I see you shortly, my love, because of whom I am powerless to love another. For when I do not see you, wherever I might be, everything I see displeases and vexes me, nor until I see you will I be satisfied. Ceaselessly my sorrowing heart weeps, fearing that in you Pity lies asleep. May it not be so, my so-beloved lady! But if so it is, I declare myself so unhappy that I do not want to live one hour more, nor even one half. My mistress and my greatest friend … Translation by Scott Metcalfe
5.
Au travail suis que peu de gens croiroient, On le peult bien qui vieult apercevoir, Mays c’est pour ce que je ne puis veoir Ma maistresse ainsi qu’aultres feroient. Bien envieulx certes aulcuns seroient, Si par sa grace du bien povoye avoir. Au travail suis que peu de gens croiroient, On le peult bien qui vieult apercevoir. S’il m’avenoit, grant doleur porteroient, Car veoir mon bien leur feroit recepvoir Mal si tresgrant que s’il duroyt, pour voir Je suis tout seur que de dueil creveroient. Au travail suis … I am in agony that few would believe— anyone who wishes to can perceive it clearly— but it is because I cannot see my mistress as others may do. Some would be very envious, certainly, if by her grace I should have some good. I am in agony that few would believe— anyone who wishes to can perceive it clearly. If I were granted mercy, some would suffer greatly, for seeing me benefit would cause them such very great pain that, if it lasted, in truth I am quite sure they would die of grief. I am in agony … Translation by Scott Metcalfe
6.
S’elle m’amera je ne scay, Mais je me mectray en essay D’acquerir quelque peu sa grace. Force m’est que pars la je passe, Ceste fois j’en feray l’essay. L’autre jour tant je m’avençay Que presque tout mon cuer lessay Aller sans que luy demandasse. S’elle m’amera je ne scay, Mais je me mectray en essay D’acquerir quelque peu sa grace. Puis apres le cop m’en pensay Que lonc temps a que ne cessay Ne ne fut que je ne l’amasse. Mais c’est ung jeu de passe-passe: J’en suis comme je commençay. S’elle m’amera je ne scay … tenor & contratenors Petite camusecte, A la mort m’avez mis. Robin et Marion S’en vont au bois joly, Ilz s’en vont bras a bras, Ilz se sont endormis. Petite camusecte, A la mort m’avez mis. If she will love me I know not, but I shall put myself to the test to gain, in some small measure, her favor. I am forced to go that route: this time I shall attempt it. The other day I advanced so far that I almost let my whole heart go, without asking anything of her in return. If she will love me I know not, but I shall put myself to the test to gain, in some small measure, her favor. Then after that try I thought to myself that for a long time I hadn’t stopped loving her, nor did I ever not love her. But it’s a game of sleight-of-hand: I’m right back where I started! If she will love me I know not … (Tenor and countertenor) Little snub-nose, you have brought me to death’s door. Robin and Marion go off to the green wood, they go off arm and arm, they have fallen asleep. Little snub-nose, you have brought me to death’s door. Translation by Scott Metcalfe
7.
Mort, tu as navré de ton dart Le pere de joyeuseté En desployant ton estandart Sur Binchois, patron de bonté. Son corps est plaint et lamenté Qui gist soubz lame: Helas, plaise vous en pitié Prier pour l’ame. Retorique, se Dieu me gard, Son serviteur a regretté; Musicque par piteux regard A fait deul et noir a porté. Pleurez, hommes de feaulté, Qui est sans blame: Vueillez vostre université Prier pour l’ame. En sa jonesse fut soudart De honnorable mondanité, Puis a eleu la milleur part, Servant dieu en humilité. Tant luy soit en crestienté Son nom et fame Qu’i denoment grant voulonté. Priez pour l’ame. tenors Miserere. Pie Jhesu domine, dona ei requiem. Death, you have wounded with your dart the father of joyousness in unfurling your standard over Binchois, the model of goodness. His body is mourned and lamented which lies beneath the tombstone: Alas, please you for pity’s sake pray for his soul. Rhetoric, so God preserve me, has grieved for her servant; Music out of piteous regard has put on mourning and worn black. Weep, men of fealty, for him who is without blame: May your community pray for his soul. In his youth he was a soldier of honorable worldliness. Then he chose the better part, serving God in humility. May his name and fame be so reputed in Christendom that there they denote great force of will. Pray for his soul. Have mercy. Merciful Lord Jesus, grant him rest. Translation by Scott Metcalfe
8.
9.
D’un autre amer mon cueur s’abesseroit: Il ne fault ja penser que je l’estrange Ne que pour rien de ce propos me change, Car mon honneur en appetisseroit. Je l’ayme tant que jamais ne seroit Possible a moi de consentir l’eschange. D’un autre amer mon cueur s’abesseroit; Il ne fault ja penser que je l’estrange. La mort, par Dieu, avant me desferoit Qu’en mon vivant j’acoinctasse ung estrange. Ne cuide nul qu’a cela je me range: Ma léauté trop fort se mesferoit. D’un autre amer … To love another my heart would abase itself: it is unthinkable that I would spurn him nor waver from this intent for anything, for my honor would thus be diminished. I love him so that it would never be possible for me to consent to the exchange. To love another my heart would abase itself; it is unthinkable that I would spurn him. Death, by God, would put an end to me before I should, while living, embrace another. Let no one imagine that I would stoop to that: my loyalty would sin too greatly against itself. To love another … Translation by Scott Metcalfe
10.
Fors seullement l’actente que je meure, En mon las cueur nul espoir ne demeure, Car mon malheur si tresfort me tourmente Qu’il n’est doleur que par vous je ne sente, Puis que je suis de vous perdre bien seure. Vostre rigeur follement me court seure Qu’en ce parti il fault que je m’asseure, Dont je n’ay bien qui en rien me contente. Fors seullement l’actente que je meure, En mon las cueur nul espoir ne demeure, Car mon malheur si tresfort me tourmente. Mon desconfort toute seulle je pleure En mauldisant sur ma foy a toute heure Ma loyaulté qui tant me fait dolente. Las! que je suis de vivre mal contente Quant de par vous n’ay riens qui me sequeure. Fors seullement l’actente que je meure … Save only the expectation that I shall die, no hope remains in my weary heart, for my misery torments me so very bitterly that there is no pain I do not feel on your account, since I am quite sure of losing you. Your pitilessness attacks me mercilessly, so that in this situation I must rescue myself, for I have nothing at all that comforts me. Save only the expectation that I shall die, no hope remains in my weary heart, for my misery torments me so very bitterly. All alone I weep for my distress, ever cursing, by my faith, my loyalty, which makes me suffer so. Alas! how unhappy I am to remain alive when from you I receive nothing to succor me. Save only the expectation that I shall die … Translation by Scott Metcalfe
11.
Fors seullement contre ce qu’ay promys, Et en tous lieux seray fort entremys Et acquerray une belle aliance. J’en ay desir voire dez mon enfance: Point ne vouldroye avoir nulz anemys. Mon vouloir j’ay tout en cela soubmis Et hors de la ja ne ferai transmis, Garder n’y veul ordre, sens ne prudence. Fors seullement contre ce qu’ay promys, Et en tous lieux seray fort entremys Et acquerray une belle aliance. Je cuide avoir en terre des amys Et que en eulx ay ma fiance mis; On doibt scavoir que n’ay nulle doubtance Ou aultrement querroye ma desfiance, Car je sceray de tout honneur remis. Fors seullement contre ce qu’ay promys … contratenor Fors seullement l’actente que je meure … ave only contrary to that which I have promised, I shall be deeply engaged on all sides and shall obtain a fair alliance. I have desired this ever since childhood: I would have no enemies whatsoever. I have entirely submitted my will to this end and from it shall not be moved, nor will I respect order, sense, or prudence. Save only contrary to that which I have promised, I shall be deeply engaged on all sides and shall obtain a fair alliance. I believe I have friends in the land and in them I have placed my trust; let it be known that I have no doubts whatsoever, for otherwise I would pursue my suspicions, since I would be stripped of all honor. Save only contrary to that which I have promised … Contratenor Save only the expectation that I shall die … Translation by Scott Metcalfe
12.
Se vostre cuer eslongne moy a tort Et que de vous je n’ay plus [nul] confort Je prendray lors sur Dieu et sur mon ame Qu’en ce monde vous ne trouverés ame Qui mains [que moy] vous voulsist faire tort. [Je cognoys bien que pour un faulx rapport Vous arrestez a ce cruel deport, Mais derechief vous fais serment ma dame:] Se vostre cuer eslongne moy a tort Et que de vous je n’ai plus [nul] confort Je prendray lors sur Dieu et sur mon ame [Que se Pitié en vostre ame s’endort Tiendray pour seur que ne soyons d’accort Et que bien tost perdray celle que j’ame. Le demourant vous quitte aussi le blasme, Car evader ne puis a male mort] Se vostre cuer eslongne moy a tort … Missing strophes by Fabrice Fitch. If your heart wrongfully pushes me away and I receive no more comfort from you, then I shall swear to God and upon my soul that in this world you’ll not find another soul who might wish less than I to do you harm. I know well that on account of a false report you insist on this cruel separation, but once again I take an oath to you, my lady: If your heart wrongfully pushes me away and I receive no more comfort from you, then I shall swear to God and upon my soul. For if in your soul Pity is asleep, I will know for sure that we are no longer united and that soon I will lose her whom I love. Let others acquit you of blame, too, for I cannot escape a bad death If your heart wrongfully pushes me away … Translation by Scott Metcalfe
13.
"Mulier amicta sole et luna sub pedibus eius" Permanent vierge, plus digne que nesune, Femme couverte du soleil de justice, Chief couronné par divin artifice De douze estoiles, supeditant la lune: Esmerveillant nature et loy commune, Tu enfantas par supernel office, Permanent vierge, plus digne que nesune, Femme couverte du soleil de justice. Preordonnée sans differance aucune Du redempteur fille, mere et nourrice, Soiez pour nous advocate propice, Toy supplions, tres belle, clere, brune, Permanent vierge, plus digne que nesune … tenor i Pulcra es et decora, filia Jherusalem: terribilis ut castrorum acies ordinata. tenor ii Sancta dei genitrix, virgo semper Maria, intercede pro nobis ad dominum Jhesum Christum. "A woman clothed with the sun and the moon beneath her feet" Permanent virgin, more worthy than any other, woman clothed with the sun of justice, head crowned by divine artifice with twelve stars, standing above the moon: Astounding nature and earthly law, you bore a child by supernal action, Permanent virgin, more worthy than any other, woman clothed with the sun of justice. Preordained without any distinction the redeemer’s daughter, mother, and nurse, be a propitious advocate for us, we beseech you, most lovely, radiant, burnished, Permanent virgin, more worthy than any other … tenor i Fair and comely art thou, O daughter of Jerusalem: terrible as an army arrayed for battle. tenor ii Holy mother of God, ever-virgin Mary, intercede for us with the lord Jesus Christ.

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Johannes Ockeghem (c.1420-1497): Complete Songs, Volume 1

Notable Recording of 2019 -- Alex Ross, The New Yorker

"Permanent Vierge": One of the 25 Best Classical Tracks of 2019 -- Anthony Tommasini, The New York Times

“These chansons...sound so fresh and new... that the intervening centuries feel like some sort of illusion…. Outstandingly beautiful…"
Dean Frey, Music for Several Instruments (Blog)

"A sumptuously lovely listening experience"
Rick Anderson, The CD Hotlist ("Rick's Pick")

One year after winning the 2018 Gramophone Classical Music Award for Early Music for the fifth disc in its series Music from the Peterhouse Partbooks (BHCD 1007) and just one month after releasing the world premiere recording of Cipriano de Rore’s I madrigali a cinque voci (BHCD 1009, 2 CDs), Blue Heron announces the release of the first in a new series of recordings dedicated to the music of Johannes Ockeghem and his contemporaries. Johannes Ockeghem: Complete Songs, vol. 1 (BHCD 1010) is the first of two discs which will present all of Ockeghem’s songs in a complete set; the second is planned for release in 2022. The songs have not been recorded complete since the early 1980s.

Johannes Ockeghem (c. 1420-1497) was one of the most celebrated musicians of the fifteenth century and is one of the greatest composers of all time, every bit the equal of J.S. Bach in contrapuntal technique and profound expressivity, and like Bach able to combine the most rigorous intellectual structure with a beguiling sensuality. His two dozen songs set French lyric poetry in the courtly forms of the fifteenth century—rondeau, virelai, and ballade—to exquisitely crafted polyphony in which all voices are granted equally beautiful and compelling melodies.

Besides eleven of Ockeghem’s songs, the disc includes two related works: the anonymous "En atendant vostre venue" from the recently-discovered Leuven Chansonnier (probably copied c. 1475 in the Loire Valley, where Ockeghem lived and worked), whose text borrows the first line of Ockeghem’s "Quant de vous seul", and "Au travail suis" by the composer Barbingant, which quotes both text and music from the opening of Ockeghem’s "Ma maistresse".

The CD booklet contains complete texts and translations and notes on the music and performance practice by Sean Gallagher (musicological adviser for Blue Heron’s project to perform the complete works of Johannes Ockeghem in a series of thirteen concert programs, Ockeghem@600) and Blue Heron’s music director Scott Metcalfe.

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released November 1, 2019

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Blue Heron Boston, Massachusetts

Winner of the 2018 Gramophone Classical Music Award for Early Music (the first non-European group to win the award), Blue Heron (Scott Metcalfe, dir.) has been acclaimed by The Boston Globe as “one of the Boston music community’s indispensables” and hailed by Alex Ross in The New Yorker for the “expressive intensity” of its interpretations. ... more

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