«Amour, amour»

Can a chanson have five different early attributions to Janequin, and still not come to be regarded as authentic? That is the dilemma of «Amour, amour, tu es par trop cruelle» («Love, love, you are by far too cruel»), a dilemma that will be explored, but I fear not resolved, in the discussion that follows.

«Amour, amour» shows up for the first time in an early Attaingnant print, the Trente chansons musicales a quatres parties, RISM [ca. 1528]-4, that Heartz (Attaingnant catalogue no. 8) dates to 1529. The poem is a straightforward dizaine rhymed abba, with the second half of the last phrase set twice. The musical setting for four voices stays close to the G minor tonality in which the piece begins and ends, and employs the characteristic 4-6f phrase articulation in phrases that mix simultaneous declamation and imitative texture. None of the thirty chansons in this collection is blessed with an attribution, a neglect that was standard practice for Attaingnant in his early volumes.

The chanson shows up again six years later in another Attaingnant print, the Trente et une chansons musicales a trois Parties avec quinze Duo (Thirty one chansons in three parts with fifteen duets) (RISM1535-16). A significant number of the two and three part chansons in this collection have four-part antecedents in earlier Attaingnant collections and Heartz (71:209 and 71:224) thinks that Attaingnant may have asked one of his editors, Pierre Regnes, to downsize a group of popular 4-part items in order to reach the market for more easily performed units. In general, these arrangements preserve the superius more or less intact, keep 60-70% of the tenor and bass lines, and largely ignore the original contralto. How successful these arrangements proved to be no doubt varied considerably. Of the 31 items in the collection, 11 are attributed to Claudin, 7 to Gosse, 3 to Heurteur, 1 to Gascogne, 1 to Ysoré and 8 (including «Amour, amour») are without attribution.

Six years after this, «Amour, amour» turns up again, this time in an Italian print by Antonio Gardano (Di Constantio Festa….) RISM 1541-13, that promises chansons by both Festa and Janequin and delivers neither. (On this collection, see the article in the Authenticity Studies entitled «Tightening the canon: Janequin and the Three-part Arrangements.) What Gardano seems to have done is to have helped himself generously of Regne’s 1535 Trente et une arrangements, and then (cynically or confusedly) pasted Janequin’s name on the title pages of his music books thinking that this might bolster sales. Apparently he was not wrong about salability, because the 1541-13 collection was reprinted twice, once by Petrius (RISM 1541-2) and again by Gardano himself (RISM 1543-23.) Courtney Adams (74:131, 192-95) thinks there may even have been yet another version of 1541-13 that preceded the others. That being as it may, suffice to say that there were rather a lot of music books in circulation in which an attribution to Janequin of «Amour, amour» is asserted on the title page.

Fast forward now to 1552 and to the Netherlands, where a presentation manuscript was being compiled, perhaps by Tylman Susato, as a diplomatic gift from Emperor Charles V to the English King Edward VI. Whereas previously is was thought (Fenlon 1984:221-243) that this manuscript travelled to England first in 1794, Martin Ham («The Stonyhurst College Partbooks, the Madrigal Society, and a Diplomatic Gift to Edward VI» in Tijdschrift Van De Koninklijke Vereniging Voor Nederlandse Muziekgeschiedenis, vol.63, no ½, 2013) has shown that the Stonyhurst manuscript containing the three-part «Amour, amour» (this time with a direct attribution to Janequin) came to England well before 1741.

Why 1741? Because this is the date when yet another manuscript version of the 3-voice «Amour, amour» was produced, also this example of the chanson explicitly attributed to Janequin. This is the manuscript London 29381, and was transcribed by a certain John Immyns, secretary and copyist for the London Madrigal Society, for use by the gentlemen members of that organization.

Where does this leave us? I think it is safe to say that Clément Janequin was not the creative force behind the three-part version of «Amour, amour» and that a chain of events labelled Regnes-Gardano-Petrius-Gardano-Stonyhurst-John Immyns is a much more likely explanation. Indeed, on examination (modern edition in Adams81:18-19) you may even agree that the current relative neglect of this effort is well-deserved.

What of the anonymous four-part «Amour, amour» from 1529? That this was initially presented without attribution does not disqualify the chanson from consideration: a handful of other Janequin chansons appear first without attribution, but are attributed in later collections. If such a now lost later collection existed, this could explain in part the persistent later connection of the title with Janequin. What of style? If you look at the four-voice transcription of «Amour, amour» in the Secular Music portion of this website, you may agree that no flagrant stylistic violations protrude, that there are moments of charm and that the result is stylistically compatible with Janequin’s early chansons. Is that enough? Summa summarum, perhaps not. I’m going to stay careful, and like Lesure and Merritt, leave «Amour, amour» among the pending.