Josquin’s Nymphes des bois
, to a text by Jean Molinet, is set in the Phrygian mode, with the plainsong ‘Requiem aeternam’ sung in transposition to conform with that mode. Molinet’s poem is full of puns, assonance, and alliteration, larding the text with significance relating to the deceased Ockeghem. Molinet’s original describes the Fate Atropos, whose role it was to cut the thread of life, as a ‘très terrible satrappe’, who ‘a vostre Ockeghem attrapé dans sa trappe’, and also describes the composer as ‘vray tresorier de musique’, alluding to his position as Treasurer of the royal abbey of St Martin, Tours. In the earliest manuscript source of the work, the notation is all black, a device used on several occasions at this time for especially mournful funerary pieces. The version performed here is that printed by Susato in 1545, reflecting the change in musical and poetic style between Josquin’s composition of the lament, presumably in or just after Ockeghem’s death in 1497, and the era of Richafort, Gombert, and other post-Josquinian figures.
from notes by Stephen Rice © 2012