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jeudi, 28 septembre 2017

Guillaume Dufay - Missa L'Homme Armé


Guillaume Dufay - Missa L'Homme Armé

- Composer: Guillaume Dufay (Du Fay, Du Fayt) (5 August 1397(?) -- 27 November 1474)
- Ensemble: Oxford Camerata - Conductor: Jeremy Summerly
- Year of recording: 1994 Missa L'Homme Armé, for 4 voices, written ca. 1460. 00:00
- 0. L'Homme Armé {anonymous} 00:46
- I. Kyrie 05:43
- II. Gloria in excelsis Deo 14:38
- III. Credo in unum Deum 27:27
- IV. Sanctus 37:36
- V. Agnus Dei
"Beware the armed man!" was a cry familiar to the ears of the late feudal culture of the "Autumn of the Middle Ages." Pope Pius II died in Ancona while trying to garner support for a new Crusade to wrest Constantinople from the hand of the Turks, who had conquered the city in 1453. This crusading project and the stylized chivalric ethos of the Burgundian court of Charles the Bold provide historical context for the immediately popular monophonic hit song L'homme armé. Robert Morton and Antoine Busnois, singers and composers to the Burgundian dukes, have been variously credited with the first polyphonic setting of the tune. In fact, the song engendered a vast family of compositions -- some 40 masses over the late fifteenth and early sixteenth centuries. While Johannes Ockeghem may have been the first to complete a cycle of five Mass ordinary movements based upon the L'homme armé chanson, Busnois' Missa L'homme armé proved seminal to the tradition.
The coeval Missa L'homme armé of Guillaume Dufay appears to quote music from Busnois, and thus likely dates from the last decade of Dufay's life. As in all four of Dufay's late cantus firmus masses, the central organizational device is a pre-existent melody in the tenor voice, stated at least once in each of the five Mass movements. Unlike the Missa Se la face ay pale, however (and unlike the more overt cantus firmus statements in Busnois and Ockeghem's L'homme armé masses), Dufay twists and disguises the chanson melody, altering it, ornamenting it, and subjecting it to a dazzling array of compositional permutations. - Dufay apportions the tripartite structure of the L'homme armé melody across the three sections of the Kyrie, with tenor cantus firmus entries sneaking in from adjacent bass notes, hiding among melodic similarities permeating other voices, and elaborated with a "tag" in Kyrie I and a diminution of the melody appended to Kyrie II.
- The entire melody appears twice in the Gloria, once with melodic ornamentation and shuffled rhythmic values, and a second time with further rhythmic alteration. The opening duo of this movement (and that of the following Credo) uses the motto opening first heard in the Kyrie, lending some audible support to the cyclic structure.
- The Credo movement follows a similar pattern to the Gloria: opening with a tremendously long duo, continuing with a structure containing an identical cantus firmus statement, and climaxing in a rhythmically intense third statement in diminution and a long free-composed "tag."
- Sanctus presents fragments of the tenor melody only at first, but then a complete statement without any alteration in the second Osanna.
- The most celebrated compositional fancy in this setting occurs in the third Agnus Dei movement, Dufay's famous "crab canon" [see 42:23 in this video]. The tenor voice is given the familiar L'homme armé tune, with a Latin inscription "Cancer eat plenus sed redeat medius," translated "The Crab goes out full but comes back half." Part of the solution to this witty instruction involves rhythmic diminution: the "coming back," or second statement of the melody, should halve all rhythmic values. But the crustacean invocation indicates a further complexity: retrograde motion the first time, as the crab "goes out" walking backwards. Dufay's clever gambit certainly sparked a tradition of competition and compositional challenge in the nascent family of L'homme armé mass settings. The first sheet in this video shows the Anonymous "L'Homme Armé" tune, upon which Dufay's Mass is based.

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