When we think of English renaissance sung music we tend to think in terms of the large-scale polyphonic music written for cathedrals, colleges, and the Chapel Royal. Certainly this music is worthy of our fullest attention but it would be a mistake to ignore the chamber-song repertory of the time. Much of it is both beautiful and technically very demanding – it can be a beast to sing even for the most skilled singers but oh how wonderful when they bring it off. Fayrfax’s Most clere of colour which like all of his secular songs is a love song. It’s a three-part setting divided into two sections found in the Fayrfax manuscript. The text describes the beloved’s beauty which in turn is mirrored by the clarity and beauty of the music. It concludes with some very demanding melismatic writing. Enjoy :-).
Robert Fayrfax (1464-1521): Most clere of colour
|Most clere of colour and rote of stedfastness, |
With vertu conning her manner is lede,
Which that passyth my mynde for to express
Of her bounte, beaute, and womanhode;
|Most clear of colour and root of steadfastness, |
With virtue cunning her manner is led,
Which that passeth my mind for to express
Of her bounty, beauty and womanhood;
|The bryghtest myrrour and floure of goodlyhed, |
Which that all men knowith, both more and less;
These vertues byn pryntyd in her doutless.
|The brightest mirror and flower of goodlihead, |
Which that all men knoweth, both more and less;
These virtues been printed in her doubtless.
Performers: The Cardinall’s Musick conducted by Andrew Carwood.