Dorothy Dunnett

Audio CD

The 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

CDERB001 £11.50
This is a privately produced CD and is not available in shops, but can be ordered through me at 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 paradise"

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 flora queine".

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".

19. Recercada
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 Mother.

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.

26. Tourdion
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.



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