Susato salve RAM2205

Salve Susato
Vocal music composed or printed by
Tielman Susato (c.1510/1515-after 1570)
Utopia Ensemble, Jan Van Outryve (lute)
rec. 2022, St. Paulus Church, Antwerp, Belgium
Ramée RAM2205 [74]

Have you ever visited Antwerp? It is well worth it. Back in July, we saw the vast baroque interior of St. Paul’s Church where this recording was made. The city flourishes commercially and artistically, as it did in the sixteenth century. Susato was born near Cologne, but he headed for Antwerp in or around 1529. It was a haven of peace at that time. The Cathedral (now famous for, amongst other things, its Rubens paintings), built in honour of the Virgin Mary, had strong musical connections. Susato decided to set up a high-end music-printing business, with editions of fine quality and pieces by the best composers of the day. That is all reflected in this new, fascinating disc.

The Cathedral was partly burned on 1533, and again by Protestants in 1566. Susato had to tailor his publications to the various religious and musical needs of the city. The list of sources in the back of the booklet gives fourteen publications from which the twenty-four pieces here recorded have been extracted, the earliest from 1544 and the latest from 1568. One may have thought of Susato as a composer of trifles, instrumental dances and the like. Well, among his thirteen works there are songs, movements from a Mass and a fine motet Salve quae roseo which ends the programme. The motet, a deeply imitative work, sums up Susato’s words: ‘Hail Antwerp, hail love / Hail pleasure and delight’ and later ‘The peoples who dwell in the lands of Asia and Africa / Are full of admiration’.

It helped that Susato was a shrewd businessman, as Sofie Taes’s fine booklet essay tells us. He was well connected in the city, and have known several of the leading composers of the time. The pieces on this disc are, we are told, a handful of highlights from across his publications. One of the composers who benefitted from Susato’s new-fangled moveable type print in his high-quality publications was Lassus, at that stage new to print. His Madonna mia, pietà is one of the highlights of the disc.

The Utopia Ensemble’s singing is almost always pleasing, especially in the secular works, but the Mass extracts and the motet are performed in a rather bland manner, unnecessarily I think. The singers employ a wide variety of vocal colours. For example, compare the lyrical, warm colour required for a chanson like Crecquillon’s Je sus aymé with the harsher front-of-mouth tone which works well for Lecocq’s Le bergier et la begiere and for Clemens non Papa’s Si par trop boir.

Jan Van Outryve plays deliciously five lute solos. Most vocal pieces are sung a capella, but sometimes he accompanies either the ensemble or a solo voice. That adds variety as one works one’s way through the album. This unique project opens up many more follow-up possibilities. It is well worth exploring.

All texts are given and well translated, and the group are pictured within.

Gary Higginson

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Tielman Susato
Mille regretz fera mon povre cueur
Thomas Crecquillon (c.1505-c.1557)
Je suis aymé
Mort m’a privé
Nicolas Gombert (c.1495-c.1560)
Triste depart
Tielman Susato
Mon Amy*
Josquin des Prez (c.1445-1521)
Nymphes des Bois
Mille Regretz
Tielman Susato
Le miens aussi
Si de present peine j’endure*
Pere eternal
Missa In illo tempore: Sanctus
Agnus dei
Hoboecken dans*
Jean Lecocq (fl.c.1514)
Le bergier et la bergiere
Jacobus Clemens non Papa (c.1510-c.1560)
Si par trop boire
Tielman Susato
Jacobus Clemens non Papa
Een venus schoon
Pierre de Manchicourt (c.1510-1564)
Ave stella matutina
Tielman Susato
O werde fortune
Orlando di Lassus (1532-1594)
Perch’io veggio
Tielman Susato
Wo bistu*
Nil homini firmum est
Orlando di Lassus
Madonna mia, pietà
Tielman Susato
Salve quae roseo

* Jan Van Outryve (lute)