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Chansons Import

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Audio CD, Import, August 8, 2006
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1. Comme femme I a 4
2. Comme femme II a 3
3. Comme femme III a 2
4. Agricola I: Comme femme a 2/4 ... Fitch
5. Se je fais bien a 3
6. Pater meus agricola est a 3
7. Tout a part moy I a 4
8. Si bibero a 3 . . . Ninot Le Petit
9. Si dormiero a 3 . . . La Rue/Isacc
10. Je nay dueil a 4
11. De tous biens plaine V a 3
12. De tour biens plaine III a 3
13. De tous biens plaine II a 3
14. De tour biens plaine I a 3
15. Agricola III/ Obrecht canon I: De tous biens plaine a 4 ... Fitch
16. De tous biens plaine IV a 3
17. Vostre hault bruit a 3
18. Dung aultre amer II a 4
19. Dung aultre amer III a 3
20. Dung aultre amer I a 4
See all 22 tracks on this disc

Product Details

  • Performer: Fretwork, Michael Chance
  • Composer: Alexander Agricola
  • Audio CD (August 8, 2006)
  • SPARS Code: DDD
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Format: Import
  • Label: Harmonia Mundi Fr.
  • ASIN: B000GH3CTI
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #489,891 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

7 of 9 people found the following review helpful By George Peabody VINE VOICE on August 15, 2006
Format: Audio CD
BROADEN YOUR HORIZONS!
Alexander Agricola (1456-1506) was a Franco-Flemish composer of the Renaissance and a prominent member of the 'Grand chapelle', the Hapsburg musical establishment. He was a renowned composer in the years around 1500, and his music was widely distributed throughout Europe. He wrote music in all the important sacred and secular styles of his time.

His style is related to that of Johannes Ockegham, especially early on in his career, and towards the end of his life he was writing using the pervasive imitation characteristics of Josquin de Pres. He is one of the few transitional figures between the Burgundian style and the style of the Josquin generation of the Netherlands who actually composed music in both styles.

There is a charming howbeit somewhat 'quirky' aspect about the viol consort arrangements of assorted 'chansons' that make up the bulk of this program. The listener is constantly being taken by surprise when Agricola's clear-cut counterpoint is interrupted by abrupt pauses, unexpected harmonic 'scrunches' or odd changes in melodic direction. One example is the setting 'De Tois biens plaine' which requires two of the viols to play pizzato, giving their ostinato accompaniment to the bowed melody a most unusual but very beautiful sound.

His originality has often been questioned as many of his compositions are based on the song material of other composers. Agricola uses some complex writing in these songs, and is ever the jokester, often using strange pedal notes, or ending on out-of-key cadences. Four of the works on this disc are sung by countertenor Michael Chance, who narrates the poems in a very plaintive and ascetic manner, in true Gallic (Burgundian) style. The selections on this disc focus on instrumental performance.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Thomas Gleim on April 28, 2009
Format: Audio CD
This very delightful release offers 18 chansons by Alexander Agricola (c. 1456 - 1506), one of the minor masters of the great Netherlandish (aka "Burgundian" or "Franco-Flemish") School of the fifteenth and early sixteenth century. He was born about 15 years later than Josquin Desprez, but died about 15 years earlier (some dates are uncertain). Most of the songs are here played by viol consort, though four are also sung by countertenor. We also hear two other chansons (one by Ninot le Petit, one by Pierre de la Rue/Heinrich Isaac) and two new compositions (for viol consort) by Fabrice Fitch that are based on Agricola's music.

If you've collected fifteenth century Netherlandish polyphony recordings for long, you know that over the last 25 years a kind of frenzy for recording the sacred polyphony of this period developed and is still in full swing. If the masses of Dufay or Obrecht aren't as popular as the Beethoven symphonies, they still don't want for many fine recordings. (Years ago I had five or six different recordings in my collection of almost every sacred work Dufay ever wrote.) What we've really needed, but only seen occasionally, are quality recordings of the secular works of the period. So a disc like this is always very welcome.

The music here reminded me most of Ockeghem. It has that same dark, brooding feel, the same type of unexpected turns. I'm sure you'll enjoy it. Perhaps everyone won't be quite so enthused about the viol consort presentation, although I can offer nothing but praise for Fretwork's sensitive and enthusiastic readings. (The notes reveal that most of these pieces aren't texted in the sources.) The viol isn't the human voice, so no performance by such a consort is ever going to be as richly nuanced or expressive as a vocal performance.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Reviewer on November 20, 2010
Format: Audio CD
... years ago! I love it! I love the complex quirky music of Alexander Agricola (1456-1506), and this is one of the very few CDs of his work that satisfies my expectations. But I'd forgotten about it until a few days ago, when I reviewed a brilliant performance of his most intricate vocal composition, the Missa in Myne Zyn, sung by the ensemble Capilla Flamenca. That CD includes four of Agricola's "instrumental" fantasies based on amorous songs, all played on violas da gamba. The gambists with Capilla Flamenca are quite skilled, but even they don't match the virtuosity of Fretwork, the finest gamba consort since the invention of cat-gut.

The selections on this CD include about half of the surviving 'secular' music by Agricola, all set in three or four voices, all displaying the strange originality, especially the polyrhythmic riddles of 'prolation' for which Agricola was famous. Rather like the 20th C composer Webern, Agricola packs more 'musical ideas' into a three-minute fantasy than Wagner packed into a whole opera. Whether these pieces were composed with gambas in mind, or lutes or recorders, is currently unknown, probably unknowable, and not terribly important so long as the players on whatever instruments understand the idiomatic rhythms and have the 'chops' to play them. The gambists of Fretwork had to get special instruments of a 15th C design made to order for this recording. That's how earnest they were about "getting it right."

Renaissance polyphony was generally composed around the "tenor" rather than in support of the treble. It takes a different habit of listening to appreciate this structure. The addition of counter-tenor Michael Chance to the Fretwork ensemble both highlights that kind of compositional logic and adds a lustrous timbre to the voice-like incantations of the gambas. This is a CD to relish again and again; Agricola's musical inspirations are inexhaustible.
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