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Wednesday, February 25, 2004
  Ballade: Resvellies vous et faites chiere lye
Guillaume Du Fay (ca. 1397-1474)
Norton Recorded Anthology of Western Music, CD 2 Tracks 14-16

Du Fay did not care if you or I were listening. This piece was clearly written for the certain audience named in the text. To us, the idea of two instrumentalists putting their instruments aside to join the singer for four notes is strange enough to get in the way of the piece. Also, I doubt most performers today would be so accommodating. More importantly, the musical decorations with which Du Fay adorns the names mentioned are almost lost to us since we have not met those people.

However, this piece is beautiful to us for the lightness it maintains in spite of the skill it requires. There are quick runs and complicated rhythms in each part. Yet these displays never create tension. Part of the reason for this is the frequent syncopation and rhythmic shifts. Another feature that adds lightness to the work is the distinctness of each of the sections. The piece never has time to get too weighty because it quickly moves on to a different pulse and tune.

What I like about this piece is the rhythmic contribution of the countertenor in the B section (which starts at track 15). These moments are not very easily related to other parts of the work. And because of that, the measure of off-beats particularly, lend spontaneity to this celebration of lovers who flee from melancholy.

posted by Isaac Watras 

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In January 2004 I starting writing an opinion for each selection in the Norton Recorded Anthology of Western Music. Now, more than a year later, I am almost finished. Soon, I will have an archive full of opinions on the music we so carelessly call "classical." And no one can stop me.

Location: Cincinnati, Ohio, United States

Director of the Contemporary Performer's Workshop... Music Teacher for St. Aloysius Gonzaga School... Principal 'Cellist of the Springfield Symphony Orchestra... Composer

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