Monday, November 09, 2009

Music I Like: Mille Regretz by Josquin Des Prez

Josquin Des Prez was a composer from the late 1400s/early 1500s, who is often referred to as "The Beethoven of the Renaissance." This is because Josquin was not only prolific but also had a great influence on the way that music evolved. Josquin is my favorite Renaissance composer, and I plan to share another piece by him in this series at some point.

His most famous composition is "Mille Regretz" -- the lament of one thousand regrets at abandoning one's beloved. It was a popular tune at the time -- you can tell because many people used it in writing church masses, which was the thing to do with popular music at the time. Listen to this recording by the King's Singers:

I chose this recording because it is the most beautiful interpretation of Mille Regretz that I have ever heard. Every time I hear it, I feel those thousand regrets. I love both the melody and the harmony. The rise and fall of the melody evoke the same emotional turmoil as the words do.

The King's Singers have modernized it somewhat -- the dynamics, such as the big crescendo at 0:42 (Jay si grand dueil...), and the phrasing, such as the short pause at 1:25 and the rallentando (slowing down) of the last phrases are additions by the King's Singers. But I really think this goes to show how timeless this piece of music is -- it's still accessible 500 years after it was composed. Josquin was a masterful composer.


Anonymous said...

He was also (oddly) one of the few classical composers that we refer to by his first name.

Laura said...

Yayyy mille regretz! Yayyy king's singers! Yay, I say!

I love them all.

And I love how you can hold your belly and say "oh, too much Paco Bell. I have Meal Regrets."

Hahaha! I crack myself up.

HJMass said...

Loved that post!
Unfortunately, Youtube removed the video.
There is another Youtube clip (code watch?v=3GBwbt6hK6c) which is nice too.