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Henri IV - An unfinished reign

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C’en est fait je ne verrai plus

Pierre Guédron

Source : ‘Soupirs Meslés d’Amour – Pierre Guédron: airs de cour’; Claudine Ansermet, soprano; Paolo Cherici, luth; Symphonia SY 96153 (1997) (MusiContact).

Caption

This air de cour was published for the first time in 1613, attributed to Pierre Guédron and dedicated to Marie de Médicis. It offers a beautiful lamentation on the part of the queen on the death of Henri IV on 14 May 1610. It was performed in the Ballet de Madame or Ballet des Météores, which was performed at Fontainebleau on 17 November 1613 in honour of the marriage of Elisabeth de France, daughter of Henri IV and Marie de Médicis, with the prince des Asturies, the future Philip IV of Spain. The time-lag between the death of the king and the performance may explain the quietly melancholic character of this lament, which depicts a sorrow that is still deep, but which gradually eases with time.

Composer

Pierre Guédron

(ca. 1565–1620)

Pierre Guédron was the youngest of the three composers at the court of Henri IV. He was born at Châteaudun in 1565 or 1567. In contrast to his older colleagues Claude Le Jeune and Eustache Du Caurroy, Guédron excelled only in the composition of secular music, and rapidly became a master of the genre.

His name appears in the historical record for the first time in 1583, when he was listed as one of five singers from the chapel of Louis II de Guise, cardinal de Lorraine, that had performed at the Puy de Musique d'Évreux that year. He is described as singing "countertenor in an excellent manner", despite being "of changing voice", i.e. between 15 and 18 years old. The date of his arrival at court is unknown. Perhaps he joined the singers of the Musique du Roi after the death of the cardinal de Lorraine in 1588. His name first appears in the royal accounts in 1599, as Maître des enfants de la Musique de la Chambre. By March 1601 at the latest, Guédron was appointed Compositeur de la Musique de la Chambre, replacing Claude Le Jeune, who had died the previous year. His career reached its apogee under Louis XIII, when in 1613 he was appointed Surintendant de la Musique de la Chambre du roi and Maître de la Musique de la reine mère Marie de Médicis, leaving the post of Maître des enfants to his son-in-law Antoine Boesset (1587–1643). Guédron rapidly made a name for himself by his masterful treatment of the air de cour, a secular genre in which he was unrivalled. After several of his pieces had been quietly published in anonymous anthologies (1595, 1596 and 1597), in 1602 Ballard published the first collection devoted exclusively to Guédron, which made the musician famous. Guédron also supplied airs and recitatives for the main ballets performed at the French court between 1598 and 1620, from Ballet des Étrangers to Ballet d’Alcine. He is considered the finest French craftsman of the accompanied solo song. He died in 1620, sometime around 9 July.

A total of 185 of his airs de cours and ballet music have come down to us, in versions for four or five voices, or for voice and lute. These were published in anthologies and collections starting in 1595. The lion's share of them were published in six polyphonic collections signed by the Guédron and published by Ballard, "music printer to the king", between 1602 and 1620.

Transcription (in French)

À LA REYNE.
C’en est fait je ne verray plus
L’Astre que la mort a reclus
Sous une dure & froide lame,
Pour rendre un tombeau glorieux
Et remplir de douleurs mon ame,
La mort en a privé mes yeux.

Ce bel Astre ornement des Roys,
Dont la France observoit les loys,
Heureuse en un si doux Empire :
Maintenant honnore un cercueil,
Afin que mon cœur qui soupire
Soit à jamais comblé de dueil.

Me faut-il resoudre à ce point
De vivre & de ne le voir point,
Luy qui fut ma gloire & ma vie :
Le soin des choses d’ici bas
Me pourroit-il oster l’envie
De l’accompagner au trespas ?

Non, non, banissant tout plaisir
Je n’auray plus d’autre desir
Que de le revoir & le suivre :
Et si je vis en ce tourment,
C’est mon malheur qui me fait vivre
Pour mes ennuis tant seulement.

Mais que j’ay l’esprit incensé
De croire ayant le cœur blessé,
Et l’ame encor’ m’estant ravie,
Que je sois vive en ce malheur,
Helas ! je suis morte à la vie,
Mais je suis vive à la douleur.

Alceste ainsi Reyne des cœurs
Soupiroit les fieres rigueurs
Dont son infortune l’outrage,
Quand elle oyt une voix des cieux
Qui par le son d’un doux langage
Essuya les pleurs de ses yeux.

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