Monday, 21 December 2020

Inviolata: lutenist Jacob Heringman returns to the fascinating genre of Josquin's sacred music intabulated for lute and for vihuela

Inviolata: Marian motets by Josquin des Prez, intabulated for solo lute or vihuela by lutenist-composers old and new; Jacob Heringman; INVENTA

Inviolata: Marian motets by Josquin des Prez, intabulated for solo lute or vihuela by lutenist-composers old and new
; Jacob Heringman; INVENTA

Reviewed by Robert Hugill on 21 December 2020 Star rating: 4.0 (★★★★)
An exploration of another side of Josquin's influence, his sacred music arranged for lute

2021 is the 500th anniversary of the death of the composer known as Josquin des Prez. His vocal music has been extensively explored, both sacred and secular. Recently the Tallis Scholars completed their amazing project to record all of Josquin's masses, and Josquin's influence on later composers has also been explored. But there are other avenues which are intriguingly less trod.

21 years ago, lutenist Jacob Heringman made a disc of 16th century lute settings of Josquin's music (still available from Heringman's website), and now with Inviolata on Inventa (Resonus Classics' new label), Jacob Heringman has returned to lute (and vihuela) settings of Josquin's music by both 16th century composers and by himself. The disc includes lute or vihuela versions of a selection of Josquin's Marian motets as well as movements from his Missa de Beata Virgine.

So why the disc, why Josquin on a lute? 

Instrumental appropriations of vocal music are common, you only have to think of Renaissance and early Baroque motets played by ensembles of cornetts and sackbutts, or the way that the In Nomine secion of the Benedictus from John Tavener's 1530 Missa Gloria Tibi Trinitas gave rise to a whole genre of complex English viol music.

But the lute?

Heringman points out the large quantity of surviving manuscripts from the 16th century show that in the generations after Josquin's death his music was enjoyed in a wide variety of ways, not just chorally. By ignoring the lute arrangements, we are missing an important part of his influence. But what were these arrangements for?

We don't really know the answer to this question. Undoubtedly these arrangements would have had to be listened to in quiet contemplation, this is not large scale music for noisy events, but small and intimate. Such arrangements would have given those interested in music, in Josquin's music, access to his works in a personal way in an age when the lute was one of the most common types of instrument. Text is lost, but we can imagine the arrangers would be hearing the text in their heads, and perhaps those early listeners did too.

It might seem counter-intuitive to transfer Josquin's music for four or so voices to a plucked, fretted instrument like a lute or vihurls, but the results are seductive. The arrangements preserve the multi-voice complexity of Josquin's writing, and Heringman is certainly adept at balancing multiple voices.

This is quiet, intense music, beautifully recorded so that we can feel we are in the room with Heringman.

Not all the arrangements are by 16th century composers. Besides ones by Hans Gerle (German lutenist from Nuremberg), Alonso Mudarra (Spanish composer for the vihuela), Enriquez de Valderrabano (Spanish composer for the vihuela), Hans Neusidler (German lutenist) and Simon Ginzler (Austrian lutenist), there are arrangements by Heringman himself. In an article in the booklet, Heringman talks about how 16th century lutenists would have improvised on pre-existing material to create new repertoire, so that he feels that a modern lutenist who aims to be historically informed needs to include this skill in their armoury.

There are four large-scale motets on the disc, Ave Maria ... virgo serena, Inviolata, Salve Regina and Stabat Mater along with movements from Josquin's Missa de Beata Virgine. Heringman plays a Kyrie arranged by Alonso Mudarra, a Fantasia on Kyrie II by Enriquez de Valerrabano, and two versions of Cum sancto spiritu (by Mudarra and by Hans Neusidler), and Heringman has linked these by doing his own arrangements of the Christe and Kyrie II plus a Prelude on Mariam coronans.

The result is an intriguing and seductive disc which takes what might be familiar repertoire and casts it in an entirely new light. Heringman makes us consider, when we talk about Josquin's influence in the 16th century we need to remember all those lutenists who were busy creating new versions of the popular material.

Inviolata: Marian motets by Josquin des Prez, intabulated for solo lute or vihuela by lutenist-composers old and new
Jacob Heringman (born 1964) - Ave Maria... virgo serena
Hanse Gerle (c1500-1570) - Inviolata, integra et casta es
Alonso Mudarra (c1510-1580) - Missa de Beata Virgine: Kyrie I (glosa)
Jacob Heringman - Missa de Beata Virgine: Christe, Kyrie II
Enriquez de Valderrabano (fl.1547) - Missa de Beata Virgine: Fantasia on Kyrie II
Jacob Heringman - Missa de Beata Virgine: Prelude on Mariam coronanas
Alonso Mudarra - Missa de Beata Virgine: Cum sancto spiritu (glosa)
Hans Neusidler (c1508/9 - 1563) - Missa de Beata Virgine: Cum sancto spiritu
Jacob Heringman - Salve Regina
Simon Gintlzer (c1500-after 1547) - Stabat Mater
Jacob Heringman (lute and vihuela)
    Six course lute in E after Frei (early-16th century) by Michael Lowe, Oxfordshire, 1999
    Vihuela de mano in G by Michael Haycock, West Sussex, 2016
    Six-course lute in G after Gerle (c.1580) by Andrew Rutherford, New York, 1997
Recorded at St Cuthbert's Chapel, Ushaw Colelge, near Durham, 20 December 2016, 8 May 2017, 29 January 2018, 25 February 2019, 9 March 2020
INVENTA INV1004 1CD [65.07]

Available from Amazon.

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