After one of the worst French debacles of the Hundred Years War, the defeat at Agincourt in 1415 followed by the capture of Paris by the supporters of the Duke of Burgundy in 1418, the future King of France Charles VII was obliged to flee the capital and his customary residences at the Louvre, Saint-Germain, Vincennes. Having found refuge in Bourges, he then lived in the chateaux of the Berry, Blois and Touraine regions, where he was in possession of the fortresses of Chinon and Loches, waiting for the political situation to improve. This period of exile led to a genuine attachment: even when his authority was reestablished, after he had been crowned at Reims in 1429 with the aid of Joan of Arc and re-entered Paris in 1437, he chose to remain in the region, far (but not too far) from the capital, its unpredictable population and the spectre of the recent troubles. Thus the kings of France and their court began a century of residence in the Loire Valley. The governing classes apparently needed to take a breather, and they gave themselves the means to do so.
That century dotted the region’s countryside with a multitude of chateaux, which have since become the emblems of the French Renaissance. They witnessed an existence as intense as it was intermittent, given the fact that the court was constantly on the move, an existence difficult for us to imagine today, and their walls echoed to music that today’s artists have rediscovered on concert and on record. From that repertory, to paraphrase Rabelais, the programme of this anthology has ‘abstracted the quintessence’.
The chateaux of the Loire were erected or extensively rebuilt in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries at the instigation of the kings and queens of France, who from roughly the 1440s to the 1540s chose to make the Loire Valley their principal place of residence, surrounded by the lords, ladies and officers of an ever-growing court. Over and above their architectural and decorative qualities, which mark the transformation of seats of royal power from fortified centres to country residences with large windows opening out onto gardens, their location in a region known for the mildness of its landscape and climate made them the symbols of a lifestyle combining the pleasures of the body and the mind and the delights of fine food and wine, of nature and sociability, in a joyous insouciance.
David FIALA (translation: Charles Johnston), extract from the 24-page booklet included with the recording.
Clément Janequin (c.1485-1558) Mass ‘La Bataille’. Ensemble Clément Janequin, Dominique Visse
Thoinot Arbeau (1519-1595). Orchésographie (1588), The Broadside Band, Jeremy Barlow
Chansons on poems by Ronsard, Ensemble Clément Janequin, Dominique Visse
Roland de Lassus, Chansons, Ensemble Clément Janequin, Dominique Visse
A celebration hosted by Rabelais: French Renaissance music, featuring the Ensemble Clément Janequin and Dominique Visse
Loyset Compère (c.1440-1518). Nous sommes de l’ordre de Saint Babouyn. Pierre de la Rue (1460-1518). Autant en emporte le vent
Claudin de Sermisy (c.1490-1562). Je ne menge point de porc. Nicolas Gombert (1490-1556). Mille regres
Ninot le Petit (1460 ?-1502). N’as tu poinct mis ton hault bonnet. Claudin de Sermisy. Vien tost
[Anonyme]. La Brosse, basse danse pour violes. Guiard (XVIe s.). Or oiez les introites de taverne
Vermont Primus (c.1500-1558). Ce n’est pas trop. Adrian Willaert (c.1490-1562). Dessus le marché darras
Nicolas Gomert. Puisqu’ainsi est. De Bussy (c.1500 ? – c.1550 ?). Las il n’a nul mal
Claudin de Sermisy. Las je m’y plains, pièce d’orgue. Nicolas Gombert . Je prens congies
Clemens Non Papa (1510-1555). Une fillette bien gorriere. Clemens Non Papa. Imcessament suis triste et doloreux
Nicolle des Celliers de Hesdin (mort en 1538). Ramonez moy ma cheminée. Clemens Non Papa. Du laid tetin
Josquin Desprez (c.1440-1521). Scaramella. [Anonyme]. Pavane et Gagliarde de « La Guerre » pour violes
Matthaeus Pipelare (c.1450-1515). Fors seulement. Pierre Certon (1510-1572). La, la, la, je ne l’ose dire
Henry Fresneau (c.1500 ? – c.1545). Souspir d’amours, pensée de plaisir. Gabriel Coste (c.1500 ? – c.1540). Celle fillette a qui le tetin point
Nicolas Gombert. A bien grant tort. Henry Fresneau. La Fricassée
Peter Tajne, François Rabelais, 1739, copper engraving, Berlin, Sammlung Archiv für Kunst und Geschichte akg-images
Jean Clouet, François I, 1535, oil on panel, Paris, Musée du Louvre – akg-images/François Guénet
Anonymus, Josquin Desprez, 1520, wood engraving – akg-images
Château d’Amboise, Charles VIII wing and Minimes Tower, 15th-16th Centuries, akg-images/Catherine Bibollet
Château de Blois, Stair tower, 16th Century, akg-images/Alfons Rath
Château d’Azay-le-Rideau, 16th Century, akg-images