Hyperion Records

O très piteulx
to mark the May 1453 fall of Constantinople; Lamentatio sancte Matris ecclesie constantinopolitane
author of text
text from Naples

'Dufay: The Court of Savoy' (CDA67715)
Dufay: The Court of Savoy
Buy by post £10.50 CDA67715 

O très piteulx
The four-voice O très piteulx, with its French text (according to Dufay’s own testimony, sourced from Naples) expresses all the pathos of this historical moment—the fall of Constantinople—with great plangency and intensity. It is gravely measured and has a gentle inevitability of motion, somehow managing to be sober and austere yet also consoling at the same time. Its tenor carries a text-fragment from Jeremiah, with the two phrases neatly transposed (seemingly to emphasize the political point of the abandonment of Byzantium by the West, as well as by God himself) and set to a paraphrase of the famed ‘Lamentation tone’ for Holy Week. This chant gives the F mode for the composition, and is sung through once in each half in a slightly different guise (the cantus also alludes to it in the free duos which stand at the beginning of each section). The piece as a whole is melodically concise, and thus relatively compact in its phrases and dimensions. Yet, as so often in Dufay, the structural and expressive effect is much larger than its length alone might imply, so perfectly calculated is the balance between the individual melodic gestures, the beautifully controlled ambit of the tenor, and the rhythmic placement of the (modally varied) cadences.

from notes by Philip Weller © 2009

Track-specific metadata
Details for CDA67715 track 11
Recording date
16 February 2008
Recording venue
Chapel of All Souls College, Oxford, United Kingdom
Recording producer
Adrian Peacock
Recording engineer
David Hinitt
Hyperion usage
  1. Dufay: The Court of Savoy (CDA67715)
    Disc 1 Track 11
    Release date: January 2009
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