Dulcis Melancholia = Musical Biography of Marguerite d’Autriche – Capilla Flamenca/ Dirk Snellings, Director – Musique en Wallonie 0525, 63:49 [Distr. by Allegro] ****:
This is a very interesting concept album that tries to wed specific types of music to the differing portions of the life of Marguerite d’Autriche, the daughter of Emperor Maximilian I of Austria and Mary of Burgundy, and regent of the Netherlands. The theme is one of almost unrelieved unhappiness, the supposition that Marguerite’s life was one of tragedy after tragedy, which does have some validity to it.
She was also highly cultured and a musician herself, playing many instruments, one who kept two songbooks of many different composers. We do have portraits of her from several sources that indicate when things were good she also was quite affable and happy; but she had a lifelong problem with melancholy, and life in general was harsh for her, despite the royal trappings, when considering marriages, offspring, family deaths—the list goes on.
The enterprising Capilla Flamenca has gathered together music of Marguerite d’Autriche’s favorite composers (especially Pierre de la Rue) in varying styles and emotional themes, and tried to tie them into differing stages of her life—Youth and Marriage, her Destiny, her Reign as monarch, and her Death. I think it works very well, though I am not so sure that I make the connections on a visceral level. But the music itself is very well done, and Capilla Flamenca (countertenor, tenor, baritone, bass, lute, percussion, three viola da gambas, flute, and positiv organ) make a truly wonderful noise. This was cleverly conceived and successfully brought off to great effect; I just wish the French texts had translations.
Roti boully ioyeulx (Anon arr. Piet Stryckers) / Belle pour l’amour de vous (Josquin Desprez) / Vray Dieu qui me confortera (Antoine Bruhier) / Tous les regretz (Antoine Brumel) / La danse de Cleves (Anon arr. Piet Stryckers) / Et qui la dira dira (Alexander Agricola / Heinrich Isaac) / La franchoise nouvelle (Anon arr. Piet Stryckers) / Esperance de bourbon (Anon arr. Piet Stryckers)/ Pavane 5 / La bella franceschina (Luis Milan) / Pourquoy tant me fault il (Pierre de La Rue) / Il viendra le jour desire (Pierre de La Rue) / Doleo super te (Pierre de La Rue) / Dulces exuviae (Anon) / Si sumpsero (Jacob Obrecht / Leonhard Kleber) / Pourquoy non ne veul je morir (Pierre de La Rue) / Pavane 4 (Luis Milan) / Troest mij scoen lief (Anon) / Plus nulz regretz (Josquin Desprez / Hans Newsidler) / Que vous madame / In pace (Josquin Desprez) / Si dedero (Anon)
— Steven Ritter