04 September 2014

Pavane for a Dead Princess: Part Eleven

Possibly Guillaume Dufay.

Cleofe probably never had a pavane –it was a slightly later development of a dance form she knew -- but at least two pieces of music were written for her wedding by two composers whom her father, Malatesta “di Sonnetti” Malatesta employed at his court. Guillaume Dufay, just beginning his career, wrote a motet. Hugo de Lantins wrote a ballata. These were written in 1419 or 1420, before Cleofe left in August for the Morea.

Listen to Vasilissa ergo gaude here or here or here. The performances differ greatly. My own recording, and the performance I heard of Vasilissa one week ago, is by Capella Romana, but I cannot find this one on the internet. However, you can hear it in person with Capella Romana in their extraordinary program of music around the Fall of Constantinople, if you can get to Utrecht for the afternoon of Sunday, 7 September.  Here is my translation of Dufay's motet for Cleofe, and then his Latin.:

Vasilissa, therefore rejoice,
worthy are you of all praise,
Cleofé, glorious from the deeds
of your family Malatesta
princes in Italy,
great and noble.

More glorious from your husband,
for he is nobler than all;
Despot of the Rhômaioi,
whom the whole world reveres;
born in the purple,
sent by God from heaven.

Radiant in youthful bloom
and in beauty,
fecund in your wits,
eloquent in both languages,
more glorious for your virtues
before other human beings.

The ruler has desired your beauty;
now that he is your Lord.
* * * * * *

Vasilissa, ergo gaude,
quia es digna omni laude,
Cleophe, clara gestis
a tuis de Malatestis,
in Italia principibus
magnis et nobilibus

Ex tuo viro clarior,
quia cunctis est nobilior:
Romeorum est despotus,
quem colit mundus totus;
in porphyro est genitus,
a deo missus celitus.

Junvenili estate
polles et formositate
ingenio multum fecunda
et utraque lingua facunda
ac clarior es virtutibus
prae aliis hominibus.

Concupivit rex decorem tuum
quoniam ipse est dominus tuus.

Text from Capella Romana: 
The Fall of Constantinople

I find the use of vasilissa fascinating – it suggests that the marriage arrangements included information as to her title. In the four letters that survive in Cleofe's hand, she uses the title only once, after the birth of her daughter Helen, when she is desperately depressed. I like the motet's suggestion that she knew Greek, and I particularly like the comment about her fertile wits. (Compositions in honor of brides never make a point of intelligence.)  Her family and friends commented on her cleverness, as did Bessarion. The last lines are ironic, given what we know about her husband's six-year refusal of a sexual relationship.

Hugo de Lantins' ballata for Cleofe seems not to have ever been recorded. I would appreciate being corrected on this. Here is my translation of Hugo, and then his version. Hugo was Franco-Flemish, working in a Pesaro where they used a variant of the Venetian dialect. Spelling was quite flexible in 1419  or so.

Across how many regions, does the sun so moving
turn and view with absolute confidence,
and see, O Sparta, none so happy as you.

You were the home of Queen Helen,
who through everything she did
drained the strength of all who ever wrote.

Now you possess something more divine,
Madonna Cleofe,
born of the Malatesta, as you well know.

These are the glories and powers
you have added to the empire of Constantinople
with its many lords, so great and noble

Tra quante regione el sol si mobele
Gira e reguarda cum intiera fede
Quanti ti, Sparta, beata non vede.

To fosti albergo di Elena regina,
Che per tanto che fe
Stancho le force de che scripse may

Ora possedi cosa piu divina
Madona Cleophe
De Malatesti, mata come say.
Quest'en le lode e le possance c'hay
Gionto a l'impero de Constantinopele
Cum tanta baronia si grande e nobele.

Text from Wikipedia.

It is not, I think, as interesting as the first, but it does show that he knows of Helen of Sparta, and he knows that Mistra is at Sparta. Both songs suggest that her family line is more than adequate to be matched with the imperial family of Constantinople.

Dufay also wrote a short composition for Cleofe's brother, Pandolfo, to celebrate his restoration of the cathedral of St. Andrew when he was Archbishop of Patras. You can hear Apostolo glorioso here. It is called an “isorhythmic motet” and is written for five voices. This will also be in the Utrecht concert.

Glorious Apostle, chosen by God
to preach to the Greek people
His incarnation, for it was blind to it,
and (who) did so without any blame,
and chosest Patras for thy resting-place
and for thy tomb this holy cave;
I pray thee, pray that I may find myself with thee,
by thy mercies, in the sight of God.

With thy teaching thou didn't convert to Christ the
whole country, and with the passion and death that
thou borest here on the cross above the olive tree.
Now it hath slipped into error and is made evil;
wherefore win grace for it again by prayer so strong
that they may recognize the true and living God.

Apostoloso glorioso, da Dio electo
A evangelegiare al populo greco
La sua incarnacion, ché v'era ceco,
Et cusí festi senza alcu suspecto,
Et elegisti Patrasso per tuo lecto,
Et per sepulcro questo sancto specco:
Prego te, preghi me retrove teco,
Per li tuoi merci, nel devin conspecto.

Cum tua doctrina convertisti a Cristo
Tuto el paese, et cum la passione et morte
Che qui portasti in croce in su lo olivo,
Mo' è prolasso in errore et facto tristo,
Si che rempetraglie gracia sí forte
Che recognoscano Dio vero et vivo.

Andrea Christi famulus.

Text and translation, Capella Romana.  The second

 The second section is not politically correct, but Pandolfo's appointment, and Cleofe's marriage, had been arranged by Pope Martin V as part of his effort to bring about Church Union.  This piece was certainly heard in Patras, and was probably written in Venetian-Italian rather than Latin as that would have been the main language heard in Patras other than Greek.

A page of Dufay's music. The West had not yet agreed
on the number of lines to a staff.

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