Collection: Attaingnant

LABELS: Naïve Astrée
ALBUM TITLE: Collection: Attaingnant
WORKS: Preludes, Chansons and Dances
PERFORMER: Hopkinson Smith (lute)


The French music printer Pierre Attaingnant published these arrangements of chansons, dances and preludes in two collections of lute music in Paris in 1529 and 1530. So far as we know, none of the pieces is actually by Attaingnant; he had them intabulated by an anonymous arranger – and that is why Hopkinson Smith felt free to elaborate some of the arrangements further, and by doing so he has produced a lute entertainment of astonishing skill, variety and musical interest. The chanson adaptations are the most conservative pieces here, though some, such as ‘Dolent depart’, are made to flicker and sparkle with running ornaments. Even the rather dull preludes are cleverly individualised – the second one is given a haunting medieval aura, for example, and the third is decked out in a flashy, Italianate manner. It is in the dances, though, that Smith shows his superb stylistic adventurousness, from the elegant French rills of the Gaillarde, to the lilting poise of the Pavane, the folksy open chords of the Bransle de Poictou, and the banjo-like bash of the second Bransle Gay. This may be chamber music, but it looks through the window of the chamber on to a world teeming with life. Anthony Pryer