When Love Enflames a Heart

Passion and Rage in Baroque France

Recorded live at Synod Hall on February 4, 2017.

Chatham Baroque
Andrew Fouts, violin
Patricia Halverson, viola da gamba
Scott Pauley, theorbo

Pascale Beaudin, soprano
Stephen Schultz, baroque flute
Andrew Appel, harpsichord

Sonata in D Minor Adagio
Elisabeth-Claude Jacquet de la Guerre (1665 – 1729)

Ombre de mon amant
Michel Lambert (c. 1610 – 1696)

Ghost of my lover, always plaintive ghost,
Alas! What do you want? I’m dying.
Be attentive at this moment to
The dire story of my great pain.
It was on that fatal shore
I saw your blood flow with my tears.
Nothing can stop my fleeting soul.
I yield to my cruel misfortunes.
Ghost of my lover, always plaintive ghost,
Alas! What do you want? I’m dying.

Sonata in D Minor Presto
Elisabeth-Claude Jacquet de la Guerre (1665 – 1729)

Recit de la Beauté, from Le Mariage forcé
Jean-Baptiste Lully (1632 – 1687)

If love subjects you to its inhumane laws
Chose to love an object filled with attraction.
Wear at least beautiful chains
And since it is necessary to die
Die from a beautiful death.

If the object of your flame
is not worthy of your pains
then in the empire of love
do not engage.
Wear at least beautiful chains
And since it is necessary to die
Die from a beautiful death.

Médée, Cantate a voix seule et simphonie
Louis-Nicolas Clérembault (1676 – 1749)

Jason’s lover, on the banks of Colchos,
has called Hell to come to her defense.
Love and gratitude
should have kept Jason in his place, 
but soon she learns that a new marriage
fulfills her unfaithful husband’s sweetest wishes.
“Gods!” she cries, “to what torments you have condemned me if I am losing Jason forever.

Charmed by his false affection,
I dared to betray my father and the gods.
Thanks to me, as the conqueror of the furious bulls, he returns in triumph to the bosom of Greece, and the treacherous man on this fatal day throws away duty, glory and love.

Prelude, Vivement
No, no, let us hear no more of a righteous wrath;
despairing love demands a victim!
I love, I am betrayed, and my heart is jealous.
Come, hatred, fury! Love delivers me up to you.

Let’s hasten to vengeance!
Deadly anger, ignite my wrath.
May the ungrateful man who is offending me
perish beneath your blows.
Let’s drop on his guilty head 
the threatening lightning of my just anger.
Hatred becomes unforgiving
when love enflames a heart.

What am I saying? Alas! My own heart rebels
and is alarmed by his deadly peril.
I was ready to punish Jason, but his cruel betrayal no longer motivates me against him.
I only see now in the unfaithful man
that which made me love him.

Air tendre en Basse
Love in its chains leads me again.
In spite all my resentment, love triumphs in its turn.
In vain a soft heart gives way to hate;
it always returns to love.

But is this is my greatest error?
For to save an ungrateful man, I betray myself,
while the treacherous man at the feet of the gods
perhaps even now is united with his new lover.

Fort viste
It is too much to suffer cruel insults!
Let us avenge my unhappy passion!
Let us deliver the ungrateful Jason to eternal pain
when he loses the happy woman who is my rival.

Fort et lentement
Cruel daughter of hell,
deadly demon, dreadful jealousy,
to avenge my betrayed flame
come, come out, your dens are open.
Come, come, punish my rival
for the dreadful pains that I have suffered. 
Make her pain equal to my fury,
so that her torture astonishes the universe.

The spell is cast, the cruel demons 
leave their dark dwelling place.
The sun god, who fathered me,
is disturbed by their cruelties.

Fly, demons, fly! Serve my deadly anger
Burn, ravage this palace,
so that the infernal flame
may destroy this place forever.
Put into every heart turmoil and terror.
Double the horror of your fires.
In this dreadful disorder, offer 
my dying rival before Jason’s eyes!”

Notes on the Performance

by Scott Pauley

Love is said to be the most powerful of human emotions, and certainly one of the oldest and most enduring. Through the ages, music has told the story of love, in its many guises, more powerfully than words alone can express. Our program explores the myriad ways that love is expressed in the music of the French Baroque. From happy and benign love, to the pain of love lost, to the darker side of betrayal, rage, and vengeance. Most interesting dramatically, if we are to be honest, is the sad and dark side of love. And who “does” l’amour better than the French?

Michel Lambert (1610-1696) was a French singing master, theorbist, and composer who wrote more than 300 airs de cour, or courtly songs. The air de cour began its life as a uniquely French form of the lute song. Often set as simple strophic songs (one or more verses set to the same music), airs de cour derived their expression from careful attention to detail in the delivery of the text, resulting in a more reserved, classical, and cultivated style than their more overtly expressive Italian counterparts. The first collection of airs de cour appeared in 1571 in Adrian Le Roy’s Airs de cour miz sur le luth. After that, a long and noble list of composers and publishers collaborated to produce airs de cour, including Robert Ballard, Pierre Attaingnant and Pierre Phalèse, as well as Antoine Boesset, Jean de Cambefort, and Lambert.

By the middle and later seventeenth century, the air de cour was sometimes known as the air sérieux. The audiences of the time loved variety and novelty in theatre, dance, and music as well. Like the galant musical style of the later French Baroque, the style of poetry on which the air sérieux was based was called galanterie. “Delicate,” “cheerful,” “sweet,” and “light-footed” were the some of the characteristics of galant poets around 1670, though in keeping with our theme of passion and rage, the songs presented here are of a more melancholy nature.

We have interlaced the airs de cour here with two movements of a violin sonata by Elisabeth-Claude Jacquet de la Guerre, whose talents were recognized from a young age. Born to a family of musicians and instrument-makers, she studied music initially with her father, performing from the age of 5 for the court of Louis XIV. She was formally accepted into the court as a teenager and remained there under the tutelage of the king’s mistress, Françoise-Athénaïs, Marquise de Montespan, until her marriage. Regarded as one of France’s foremost harpsichordists, she was also considered one of its finest composers. She wrote vocal cantatas, opera, ballet, solo works for the harpsichord, and some of the earliest French examples of sonatas and trio sonatas. The famous biographer of the French court under Louis XIV, Évrard Titon du Tillet, reserved a space for her on his Mount Parnassus, praising her “marvelous facility for playing preludes and fantasies off the cuff. Sometimes she improvises one or another for a whole half hour with tunes and harmonies of great variety and in quite the best possible taste, quite charming her listeners.” (Le Parnasse Français, 1732).

The two movements performed here are the first and final movements of Jacquet de la Guerre’s Sonata in D Minor for violin and basso continuo. Like the vocal airs they accompany, they show a serious, even brooding quality in the first movement, with a brisk fugue-like final movement.

The second part of our concert is comprised of one single work, Médée. This Cantate Françoise (French Cantata) by Louis-Nicolas Clérambault derives its form from the Italian Cantatas of Carissimi and others. The Cantate Françoise is something like an opera, but adapted to the smaller scale of chamber music. It has all of the same elements: a mix of recit, or speech-like narration, airs (tuneful arias both in duple and triple meter), dance-like movements, and instrumental interludes that feature the flute, violin, and viola da gamba. 

In the case of Médée, the whole story is told through the voice of a single soprano, who shifts seamlessly between the roles of narrator and protagonist. In his Recueil de Cantates (1728), the French writer Bachelier notes that the “recitative would furnish the body of the cantata and tuneful airs, the soul.” Médée appeared in 1710 in the first of five books of Clérambault’s published Cantates. In this piece we come to see the dark side of love: betrayal, rage, and vengeance. The story goes all the way back to Greek mythology, and the 5th-century play Medea by Euripedes, still performed widely today. Medea’s husband Jason has abandoned her for another woman. Her vengeance is brutal. Medea kills not only Jason’s new lover, but also her own children that Jason had fathered. In Clerambault’s version, the killing of Medea’s children is mercifully omitted, but we follow her through a tumultuous monologue that travels through her sadness, outrage, a brief hesitation, and then fury. She desires not only to see her rival die, but to punish her “for the dreadful pains that I have suffered. Make her pain equal to my fury, so that her torture astonishes the universe.”

Instruments played in this concert

Andrew Fouts: Baroque violin by Karl M. Dennis (Warren, RI, 2013) after Guarneri del Gesu, Le violon du Diable, 1734

Stephen Schultz: Baroque flute by Rod Cameron (San Francisco, CA, 1987) after Hotteterre, c. 1690

Patricia Halverson: 7-string bass viol by Judith Kraft (Paris, 1988) after Michele Colichon, c. 1670-90

Andrew Appel: Harpsichord by Frank Rutkowski and Robert Robinette (Jersey City, NJ, 1991) after a Johannes Ruckers 1648 original enlarged in North Germany in the 1690’s

Scott Pauley: 14-Course theorbo by Klaus Jacobsen (London, 1991) after Matteo Sellas, c. 1640

Pitch: A=392 Hz

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