Rise, Ancient Song

I have been listening a lot to this motet, Adesto dolori meo, Deus, by the late-Renaissance Flemish com­poser Alexander Utendal re­cently. The rising chro­matic line that forms the basis for the opening im­it­ative entries is mind-blowing in its de­ploy­ment, dis­playing fresh­ness and in­genuity des­pite being nearly 500 years old. By the time the sop­rano reaches her top D and the har­mony reaches its widest point, I am al­ways struck by the feeling of some­thing having gradu­ally come to­wards me, emer­ging from a mist. Utendal seems to be a re­l­at­ively un­known figure, but there are a few in­ternet re­sources, in­cluding: videos on YouTube of Oltremontano and the Capilla Flamenca per­forming some of his works; some people have help­fully re­pro­duced Hellmut Federhofer’s Grove Dictionary of Music art­icle here and here (Flemish mu­si­co­lo­gist Ignace Bossuyt dis­agrees with Grove’s date of birth, sug­gesting c. 1543 – 5 as cor­rect); and if you search the old Google you’ll pull up the odd other thing, in­cluding a few things in Dutch.

This re­cording is of my father’s group The Art of Music, a group of (usu­ally) six singers living and working in Luxembourg who have now been going for over fif­teen years with varying per­sonnel and who spe­cialise in the per­form­ance of music from the Renaissance and Middle Ages.

Alexander Utendal Adesto dolori meo, Deus
The Art of Music (Flash Compact Editioun FCE 209/504)

First page of Adesto dolori meo, Deus by Alexander Utendal

First page of Adesto dolori meo, Deus by Alexander Utendal

This entry was written by Chris, posted on Wednesday, 29 July 2009 at 11:43 am, filed under Musings and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post. Both comments and trackbacks are currently closed.
  • Microbiography

    Chris Swithinbank is a British-Dutch com­poser who works with both acoustic in­stru­ments and elec­tronic sounds. He is cur­rently a stu­dent at Harvard University with Chaya Czernowin.
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