THE NORTH STAR: MIRACLE TALES FROM MEDIEVAL FRANCE

Anne Azéma, voice, hurdy-gurdy

Shira Kammen, vielle, rebec, harp

1. De l'estoile ... toute ma vie chanterai

Rose cui nois ne gelee                                 Gauthier de Coincy (1177/8-1236)

                                                                        BN, f fr 24406, 151r-v          

Nouvel amour qui si m'agree                       Rogeret de Cambrai  ( 13th century)

De l'estoile, mere au soleil                           Anonymous (13th century)

                                                                        BN, f fr 24406, 154r

2.  De sainte Léochade

Que de memoyre me dechaie                   Gauthier de Coincy:

            Las, las, las                                        BN, Nouv Acq 24541, 110

Quatre jours plains                                                  

            Sur ce rivage                                     BN, Nouv Acq 24541, 111r

N'est pas merveille

            De Sainte Léochade                        Petersbourg Ermitage, f fr XIV, 136-138

                                                                        and BN, Nouv Acq 24541, 111v     

3. Porte dou ciel et sourse de miel

Ma vielle                                                         Gauthier de Coincy

                                                                        BN, Nouv Acq 24541, 118

Dou cierge qui descend au jongleour       Gauthier de Coincy

A Virgen Santa Maria - Cantiga 8              Attr. Alfonso el Sabio (1221-1284)

4. Maravillosos e piadosos

Gran' dereit - Cantiga 56                             Attr. Alfonso el Sabio

            Un brief miracle                                Gauthier de Coincy

Dou tres douz nom a la virge Marie            Thibault de Champagne (1201-1253)

                                                                        BN, f fr 846, 36e       

Maravillosos e piadosos - Cantiga 139     Attr. Alfonso el Sabio

Portion ot this program has been recorded as "The Unicorn", an Erato CD

And as “Etoile du Nord” (to be issued,  2002)

Research, transcription, edition and creation: Anne Azéma  &  Shira Kammen

Edition of litterary sources for Coincy: Koenig

Editions of the Cantigas: Anglès, Mettmann

The musicians

Anne Azéma and  Shira Kammen have performed  together for over 10 years, on three continents,  appearing as partners on  many  concerts and recordings. They recorded this program  - their  first duet CD  - a few weeks ago.

French soprano Anne Azéma is renowned for her performances of early music. She has been acclaimed by critics on four continents for her original, passionate, and vivid approach to songs and texts of the Middle Ages. She has also been widely praised in many other repertoires, from Renaissance lute songs to Baroque sacred music to twentieth-century music theatre. Ms Azéma's current discography numbers about thirty recordings as a soloist or a recitalist. A featured soloist with The Boston Camerata , she has taken prominent roles in many of that ensemble's tours and Erato productions (Grand Prix du Disque). She has been a soloist with numerous other ensembles, large and small, early and contemporary. Ms. Azéma is a  founding member of the Camerata Mediterranea, touring with them internationally and appearing on all of that ensemble CD's (Edison Prize).  She is frequently invited as a recitalist touring in North America, Europe, Africa, and Japan. Her teaching activities include master classes, seminars, residencies  in France, Holland and the U.S. Anne Azéma's recent major festival appearances as soloist and recitalist include Aix-en-Provence, Graz, Versailles, Spoleto U.S.A., Singapore, Jerusalem, Seville, Dresden,  Boston, Bergen, Tanglewood and Tokyo. Anne Azéma was recently appointed director of  musical programming for  a major project on Medieval Gardens at the Musée National du Moyen Age, Paris.

Shira Kammen received her degree in music from UC Berkeley and studied vielle with Margriet Tindemans. A member  for many years of Ensembles Alcatraz,  Project Ars Nova, and Medieval Strings, she has also worked with many other ensembles including Sequentia, Hesperion XX, The Boston Camerata, Camerata Mediterranea and the King's Noyse, and is the founder of Class V music, a group dedicated to performing  on river rafting trips. She has performed and taught music in the United States, Europe, Canada, Israel and Morocco, as well as on the Colorado and Rogue rivers.  Shira often collaborates with several new groups: a medieval ensemble, Fortune's Wheel; a contemporary music group; Ephemeros, and an eclectic ethnic band, Panacea.

                                                                                    Summer 2001


The North Star: Marvels and Miracles of Medieval France  (Concert program notes 01)

Miracles, “effected by God through means which are unknown to us,” fascinated, frightened and amazed the medieval world. Miracles wrought by the Virgin Mary were all the more revered and popular because the Virgin represented a direct and human link to God, thereby making any divine manifestation at once more extraordinary and more immediate.

Throughout the Middle Ages the collections of miracles of the Virgin Mary were many and varied. They share an emotion and a dualism (good / evil) specific to this repertoire. They are paraliturgical in nature, and because of the concrete nature of the stories they tell, these collections are a unique bridge between different spiritual worlds. The earliest, like the Liber Miraculorum (Book of Miracles) of Gregory of Tours, describe eastern Marian legends and miracles. It is only from the 11th century on that these miracles of eastern origin begin to appear in western compilations. Great pilgrimage sites were then built (including those of Rocamadour, Chartres, Soissons), which attracted both great and humble, kings and peasants, clerics and minstrels.

The 13th century witnessed the flourishing of Marian worship in general, promoted especially by the Franciscan and Dominican orders in all the countries we now call European. With this blossoming the stories of the miracles of the Virgin Mary continue to spread, constantly modified and exchanged. The interest of this repertoire lies in these very modifications and movements. Many of these collections contain no music at all, only texts. Others, and in particular the work of Gautier de Coincy, a prolix and exuberant writer, are sprinkled with musical compositions. Finally, the vast compilation ordered by Alfonso el Sabio (1221-1284), King of Castile and Leon, is a jewel which contains within it an entire world centuries in the making: music and texts are there, as well as visual decoration.

The world of the court of Alfonso el Sabio was undoubtedly varied, and an extraordinary cultural crucible. Other parts of the Iberian Peninsula, Navarre in particular, had regular exchanges with the north of France. Among the works collected in the Cantigas de Santa Maria, different musical and literary worlds, including that northern one, stand side-by-side. Although diffuse, this presence makes itself felt, and at many levels. A number of miracles included in the collection are set in the north (in Soissons, in Chartres, in “França,” in “Bretanna,” etc.) Certain stories in these miracles are nearly identical in Gautier de Coincy and in the cantigas. Finally, at least one cantiga melody is clearly recycled from the trouvère repertoire (the melody of Rogeret de Cambrai’s “Novel amor” is found, inverted, in the cantiga “Maravillosos et piadosos”).

This program juxtaposes the miracles of the north of France, such as those of Gautier de Coincy, and their Iberian cousins, including the miracle of the statue of St. Leocadia, stolen and lost in the Aisne, and then recovered; the miracle of the jongleur who, thanks to his art, was favored with the Virgin Mary’s grace, despite the machinations of an evil monk; and the miracle of the devout monk who, after a life spent singing psalms, dies with the holy sign of five roses in his mouth. In the context of the proliferation of Marian music, which itself mirrors the practice of secular love lyric and music, we will travel from the north of France to the court of Alfonso el Sabio, taking the roads traveled by countless pilgrims, and stopping at the high points of marvels and miracles.  Anne Azéma (translated by Gina Psaki)


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