Movement 1: Basse dance
Movement 2: Pavane
Movement 3: Tordion
Movement 4: Bransle
Movement 5: Pieds-en-l'air
Movement 6: Mattachins
Basse Danse This dance had already gone out of fashion in Arbeau’s day, but he includes it in the hope that it may be revived by ‘modest matrons’. It was stately, and the feet were not raised but glided over the floor, hence the name. Warlock follows Arbeau exactly, three melodies, each repeated, followed by a repeat of the first section, though Warlock has a short coda instead of Arbeau’s fourth tune. Each repetition is harmonized and/or orchestrated differently.
Pavane Another stately dance which had taken the place of the basse danse, and was usually followed by the more lively galliard. Arbeau printed this melody in its four-part vocal form, and Warlock, after establishing the dance drum-beat gives this four-part version almost unaltered. He then repeats it with Arbeau’s tenor as a descant; however, the final phrase is given new harmony, as if to show there is a new composer present on the scene.
Tordion This started life as the concluding, slighter faster, figure of the basse danse. Warlock speeds up Arbeau’s tune and lightens each repetition to such an extent that the music almost disappears.
Bransle Originally a country round dance this was taken into aristocratic circles, and it was still danced at the court of Charles II. The longest movement in the suite, Warlock uses no fewer than five of Arbeau’s tunes, gradually gathering pace until the music reaches its brilliant cross-rhythm conclusion.
Pieds-en-l’air Only the first phrase appears in Arbeau, developed by Warlock into a wonderfully flowing four-phrase melody, repeated with new harmonies and given a typical slow Warlock final cadence.
Mattachins The first half of the movement sets out one of Arbeau’s variants of the Air des Bouffons. The second half has no melody, being a series of discordant clashes between concentrated bodies of the strings, sounding more like Bartók than any British composer. (Warlock knew Bartók well, and admired his music.) It clearly derives from the fact that this was a sword dance, and presumably very noisy!
from notes by Michael Pilkington © 1997