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ca 1538 __ « De Lamentatione Jeremiae »
Dominique Phinot (1510-1556)
Comment : Dominique Phinot (c. 1510 – c. 1556) was a Franco-Flemish composer of the Renaissance, active in Italy and southern France. He was highly regarded at the time for his motets, which anticipate the style of Palestrina, and in addition he was an early pioneer of polychoral writing. He may have been French in origin, since Girolamo Cardano, writing about him in his Theonoston (1560) called him "Gallus", and French was evidently his native language. Few details of his life are known with certainty, but some inferences can be made. Much of his career he spent in Italy, and he worked at both the court and cathedral in Urbino in 1544 and 1545. Some of his life he also probably spent in Lyon, as evidenced by several publications there, the music of which contains items of local interest; in addition the dedications are to citizens of Lyon. While stylistically some of his music seems to likely to have been connected with Venice, there is no evidence of his activity there; however he published two books of psalm settings in Venice in 1554. According to Cardano he was executed for "homosexual practices", probably in Lyon in 1556. Phinot seems to have been most highly regarded by the next generation of composers, including Palestrina and Lassus who both admired his music, for his polychoral works. The polychoral motets, including a setting of the Lamentations of Jeremiah, foreshadow the work of Willaert and the Venetian school. The Lamentations are for eight voices in two groups of four, who answer each other antiphonally and then gradually build to a climax as the groups increasingly overlap, eventually singing together in eight independent contrapuntal parts. These polychoral motets are considered by some scholars to be the earliest examples of mature polychoral writing (for example, A. F. Carver). They were reprinted time and again during the 16th century, indicating their popularity and influence. (Compiled from various sources)Dominique Phinot is undocumented until the 1540s, so Rice can only speculate that he was born sometime around 1510. His works were printed between 1538 and 1555, and he was executed between 1556 and 1561. He published over 100 motets; two masses; Vespers psalms and canticle; and chansons and madrigals. The motets were important as early examples of polychoral writing and what Edward Lowinsky called “the secret chromatic art” of “musica ficta”. The motets are remarkable. Four of them are double-choir settings for eight voices, anticipating in 1548 the Venetian polychoral style. The largest is the prayer of Jeremiah, the fifth chapter of the Book and the last lamentation in the Tenebrae series. Phinot omits the Hebrew letters that introduce each verse (replicating the acrostic Hebrew text), unlike the usual settings. “O sacrum convivium” is of surpassing beauty as each phrase of the text is exchanged between the two choirs and then repeated by the full choir. The other two double-choir works are settings of Our Lord’s words from the Gospel of John. The Magnificat uses an alternatim setting with the polyphonic verses in four parts until it expands to five voices in the final verse. “Confitebor tibi” is a psalm regularly used at Sunday Vespers, another alternatim setting with four-voice polyphony. The only five-voice motet is “Pater peccavi”, which exemplifies Lowinsky’s “secret chromatic art.” The “musica ficta” calls for a series of flats producing a downward spiral as the prodigal son comes to his senses and decides to return to his father. This is a remarkable way of looking at a motet published in 1538, but the effect is unmistakable. (arkivmusic.com, 2009)“ [...] The interaction between the choirs is the primary structural force and the subtlety of Phinot’s manipulation of that interaction is considerable. His plasticity of approach is apparent in the overwhelming predominance of varied repetition over exact repetition. The whole structure depends on such antiphony, with virtually none of the none-repetitive antiphony typical of the “salmo spezzato”. Antiphonal phrases may be of shorter or longer durations : as little as one bar or as much as three bars or more. The answering phrase may be at a different pitch; it may be varied in melodic, harmonic, and rhythmic detail; it may begin differently but end the same, like a musical rhyme; the answering choir may extend the phrase by adding further text. Eight-part textures assume importance as musical punctuation marks, as ways of emphasising particular phrases, and of course as all-embracing conclusions. They usually rise an overlapped choral exchange in which the leading choir continues sounding whilst the pther choir imitates, or from the merging of multiple exchanges. Sometimes a phrase set à 4 is repeated à 8, or the last half of a phrase begun à 4 is emphasised by the addition of the other choir. Phinot’s antiphonal phrases are usually homophonic, the tuttis more polyphonic in the Flemish style, with no attempt to retain harmonic completeness in each choir. Further illustration of Phinot’s non-spatial concept of the idiom occurs in the Lamentations, where two self-contained four-part sections mix voices from both choirs to give in one case a high group, in the other a low group. “Sancta Trinitas” will serve to illustrate Phinot’s style. In the very first phrase Phinot eschews exact repetition : Choir 2’s reiteration of ‘Sancta Trinitas’ takes us to the dominant where Choir 1 had remained in the tonic. The succeeding phrase ‘unus Deus’ shows how overlapping echoes can produce a tutti. Towards the end of the piece it is instructive to compare the delightful variants of the three chords of ‘ex hoc nunc’ as they pass from choir to choir. [...] Two of Phinot’s double-choir motets became models for parody masses. [...] Phinot’s choirs were probably not spaced, but then nor usually were the choirs in the large polychoral output of Lasso whose development Phinot’s motets made possible.”. (Anthony F. Carver, “Cori Spezzati - Vol. 2 - Anthology of Sacred Music”, pp. 57-59, 1988)
French comment : Le Franco-flamand (ou Français) Dominique Phinot (ou Finet) travailla surtout en Italie (Gardane l’y imprime dès 1538) et séjourna à Lyon en 1547 - 48, ville où fut publié son “Second Livre de Motets” à 6, 7 et 8 voix. Personnalité restée obscure (une rumeur du temps, non vérifiée, le fait mourir tragiquement, exécuté pour motif d’homosexualité), Phinot se révèle un musicien passionnant dans les “Lamentations” qui appartiennent au Livre de motets précité. Un recueil historiquement très important, parce que publié deux ans avant les premières œuvres polychorales de Willaert à Venise ; ce qui remet peut-être en cause la paternité du Flamand comme créateur de la spatialité en musique. (Roger Tellart, In “ESPACES - CHAMPS ACOUSTIQUES”, Cité de la Musique, Paris, 2003)
Source : Carver, Anthony F. (1988). “ Cori Spezzati - Vol. 1 & 2 - Anthology of Sacred Music”. Cambridge ; Cambridge University Press.
Urls : http://mediatheque.cite-musique.fr/simclient/Integration/CIMU/viewer/passerelle.asp?INSTANCE=MULTIMEDIA&IDALOES=0574990&from=EXTERNE (last visited ) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vH-RnsDW8V4 (last visited ) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cmuWWcnjRUc (last visited )

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