Gigue: La Post
Ennemond Gaultier (ca. 1575-1651)
Norton Recorded Anthology of Western Music, CD 4 Track 42
Ennemond’s gigue is a meditation more than a dance. Hearing La Poste
our feet may stay still as our ear follows the line through its gentle chords. Nevertheless, it is easy to imagine people dancing to this line. People wearing the big clothes fashionable with Gaultier’s audience would have moved at the steady elegant pace we hear in this performance. More than athletic demonstration, the dancer’s attention would be taken by the contemplation of clothes, long looks in the eye, and the slight touch of a hand.
Somewhere in the room, perhaps, there would be a lute player listening. This person, disinterested in courtly behavior (a lute hobbyist, maybe) would stand motionless. Gaultier’s melody holds this person’s attention fully. The tune is structurally simple. Generally, Gaultier has asked the lute player to move by step. Yet there are other melodies that, alone, seem mere fragments. Combined, they create unexpected leaps and meandering delights.
What I like about this gigue in binary form is the use of the low register. The move to the low register for the middle of the piece reinforces the form of the dance. While the form and the general motion of the piece are clear and disciplined (almost restrained), it is in the details that Gaultier has allowed his performer to be free and loose.