Musical Worlds of Niccolo and Lymond
Music from the times and places of the Niccolo
and Lymond historical novels by Dorothy Dunnett
by the Edinburgh Renaissance Band
This is a privately produced CD and is not available
in shops, but can be ordered through me at email@example.com with
payment made via UK cheque or PayPal.
(this CD supercedes the earlier cassette - Music for Lymond, Niccolo
and the Medici)
The Band originally compiled a selction of pieces for the Dunnett Convention
which was held in Edinburgh in 1990, which was released on the above mentioned
cassette. Later they performed at the Stirling Castle banquet during the
Dunnett Gathering in Edinburgh 2000, and extended the contents of the
recording to produce this CD.
1. Pange melos lacrimosum
This two-part conductus is a fine example of the style of music being
written for performance in the cathedral of Notre Dame in Paris in the
thirteenth century. It is included here because it is found in a manuscript
which was in the cathedral of St Andrews in the fifteenth century, and
therefore in the care of Archbishop Patrick Graham (To Lie with Lions),
and Archbishop William Scheves (Gemini).
2. Stella splendens
An anonymous Spanish pilgrim song. Although written in the fourteenth
century, it gives a flavour of the music which sustained generations of
priests and pilgrims who, like Godscalc of Cologne and Ludovico da Bologna,
travelled to the limits of the known world.
3. Vergine bella
This beautiful song is by Guillaume Dufay, the major composer of the fifteenth
century. Dufay was born and died in or near Cambrai in northern Burgundy,
but spent much of his working life in Italy. He was greatly admired by
Piero di Medici, who commissioned him to set a poem by his son Lorenzo.
At his death in 1474 he bequeathed six music books to his old pupil Charles,
Duke of Burgundy, who unfortunately had little time to enjoy them - he
was killed three years later at the siege of Nancy (Caprice and Rondo).
4. La bernadina
Josquin des pres, the composer of this sprightly instrumental trio, was
born in Flanders in 1440, the same year as Nicholas. He is known to have
worked as a musician in Milan from 1459 to 1472.
5. Claros frescos
6. Cucu, cucu
7. Pase el agoa
In Scales of Gold Nicholas visits the ports of Aragon and Castile, and
in Race of Scorpions he had already fought briefly for Ferrante of Aragon,
King of Naples. In 1474 the marriage of Ferdinand II of Aragon and Isabel
I of Castile united the two Spanish kingdoms. These three songs come from
the Cancionero Musical de Palacio, which records the musical repertoire
of the court of Ferdinand and Isabella.
8. Bel regardo
This is a popular Italian dance known as a ballo. It comes from the dance
instruction manual "De practica seu arte tripudii" by Guglielmo Ebreo.
The book was published in Venice in 1463, the year before Nicholas returned
there from Cyprus (Scales of Gold).
9. Donna dl dentro
A witty quodlibet, weaving together three popular songs: "Donna di dentro",
"Dammene un pocho", and "Fortuna d'un gran tempo". The composer is Heinrich
Isaac, born in 1450 in the Low Countries, who eventually settled in Florence
and became music teacher to the sons of Lorenzo de Medici.
10. Ne piu bella
Heinrich Isaac here sings the praise of his adopted home: "Florence is
11. O lusty May
This joyful dance-song provides an appropriate bridge between the fifteenth
century world of Nicholas de Fleury and the sixteenth century period of
Francis Crawford of Lymond. In the famous poem "The Complaynt of Scotland",
written in 1548, a group of shepherds is described singing "sueit melodius
sangis of natural music of the antiquite", including "O lusty maye vithe
12. Pavan and Galliard
In 1558 Mary Queen of Scots married the French Dauphin in Paris. The previous
year the enterprising Parisian publisher Etienne du Tertre capitalised
on the fashionable interest in all things Scottish by bringing out a dance
collection with several items related to Scotland. The galliard is known
in a lute transcription as "La Royne d'Escosse", and it has been suggested
that the pieces may have been written by Mary herself.
13. Laccio d'amore
This is a popular Italian dance from "Il ballarino", by Marco Fabrizio
Caroso, published in Venice in 1581. The melody itself is a traditional
tune dating from earlier in the century.
14. Sir William Keith's pavan and galliard
Only the cantus and bassus parts of these spirited dance tunes have survived;
the inner parts have been reconstructed by Charles Foster. Sir William
Keith was the fourth Earl Marischal of Scotland, and died in 1581.
15. Belle qui tiens ma vie
Referred to in Checkmate. Arbeau's "Orchesographie", a French dance manual
of 1589, gives this four-part version of the dance-song.
16. La nizzarda
From an Italian dance collection called "Le Gratie d'Amore" by Cesare
Negri. Negri was born in 1536, and published the collection in 1602, two
years before he died.
17. La mourisque
This lively dance was published by Tielman Susato, who died in 1561. Susato
sold music and instruments from a shop in Antwerp.
18. My lute awake
Referred to in Queens’ Play. The words of Sir Thomas Wyat are here set
to an Italian tune which became internationally famous as "La Cara Cosa"
or "La Gamba".
The composer of this passamezzo, based on a simple repeating eight bar
melody with elaborate decorations, is Diego Ortiz. He published a treatise
on ornamentation in Rome in 1553.
20. Song of Baida
The translation of "The Song of Baida" by Yaroslav Baran, which is used
in The Ringed Castle, is here accompanied by the original Ukrainean tune.
21. 'Tant que je vive (instrumental)
In Checkmate an instrumental consort attempts to serenade Philippa, with
dramatic effect! We employ a similar mixed consort here: a cornett, two
recorders, two rebecs, two crumhorns and a bass viol.
22. Departe, departe
Written by Alexander Scott, who in 1548 was Canon of Inchmahome (The Game
of Kings). In this song the Master of Erskine, who was killed at the Battle
of Pinkie in 1547, is supposedly addressing a farewell to Mary, the Queen
23. Ane ground
Duncan Burnett, Master of the Glasgow sang-schule, copied this piece of
anonymous sixteenth century music into a manuscript in about 1610, possibly
as an example for his pupils.
24. Ane exempil of tripla
Another piece of Scottish sixteenth century anonymous music, probably
intended as a composition exercise.
25. Support your servand
This fine four-part polyphonic song, here played instrumentally, epitomises
the close connections between Scotland and France in the sixteenth century.
The words of the song are a translation by the Scottish poet James Steill
of a poem by Marot, and the anonymous Scottish composer has absorbed many
elements of the French chanson style.
A lively dance which is found in several sixteenth century collections,
including Arbeau's "Orchesographie".
27. Tant que je vive (vocal)
This haunting song plays a pivotal role in Checkmate. A musical setting
of the poem does not seem to have survived, but poets of the time frequently
used an existing piece of music as the vehicle for a new lyric. In this
spirit we have set the words to the music of Claudin de Sermisy (c. 1490-1562),
whose chansons achieved great popularity both in France and in Scotland.