Claude Le Jeune, Zwei Fantasien fur vierstimmiges consort Paris 1612 ...

These two fantasies for viol quartet (with 2 tenors) are take from the printed edition of 1612, (all Le Jeune's published nusic is posthumous). (Fuzeau have recently published facsimiles of the 1612 and 1639 prints for those of you who would like to play these fatasies from the original notation.) There appear to be no other manuscript sources surviving so there is no problem of versions when considering the editorial presentation, which is well done and very readable with turnovers being kept to a minimum, but not avoided altogether due to the length of the pieces. It follows the modern editorial practice of giving enough information, (including a facsimile of the first lines), to allow the reader to see through the edited text to the original notation.

Le Jeune was a protestant and nearly lost all his manuscripts when fleeing Paris for the Huguenot stronghold in La Rochelle in 1589. The composer and academician Jacques Mauduit rescued Le Jeune, his work and music and poems by members of the Académie de Poésie et de Musique, during the siege of Paris at the end of the French Wars of Religion. Happily for Le Jeune he was able to return to Paris during the last years of his life to work at the court of the liberal and enlightened King Henry IV.

These pieces are welcome additions to the repertoire from Edition Güntersberg by a composer largely at the present known by his entries in the Oxford Book of French Chansons, and the efforts of London pro Musica. They are typical late renaissance fantasies starting with each voice presenting the first point in canon entering one by one. They are only moderately difficult, though Le Jeune winds up the rhythmic complexity of the counterpoint towards the end of the middle of the first fantasy, giving a passage which might challenge the ensemble at sight reading. There is a score and four part books, the middle two being in alto clef.

Martin Grayson,
The Viol No 6: May 2007