Hildegard and the Celtic Bard

Released in 2018, this recording takes you on a journey from Hildegard’s medieval monastery in Bingen, Germany, to the French courts of the Renaissance and finally to the folk of Ireland, England and Scotland.

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Amanda Cole is a skilled and assured mezzo soprano from New Zealand, and her voice is colorful and lovely. She brings interpretive warmth and insight to every song here, from the most intricate and complex to the most simple and spare.

One has to appreciate the easy flow with which she sings these songs, and for how singable she makes this language sound. Sandra Crawshaw handles the piano accompaniments with aplomb.

The songs themselves are fascinating and they are given exemplary performances, but it is the comprehensive attention to detail in other matters of presentation that makes this recording so uncommonly satisfying. Ms. Cole offers up thirty-four songs with full texts and translations, composer and poet biographies, and various program notes to explain certain textual references that the typical listener is otherwise unlikely to understand. She also shares some interesting information about the turbulent history of Portugal, which is a valuable addition to her notes since there are numerous references to that history in these songs. Even more helpful is an essay titled “Saudade and Song,” which explains what the title of the disk is all about. Saudade, according to Cole, is “a particularly Portuguese concept and sentiment” that springs out of a collective, cultural sense of longing and yearning for pleasures which either once existed and have faded from view, or which never existed in the first place but have been desperately desired all the same.

CD NOTES AND TRANSLATIONS. BY AMANDA COLE

PART I. Middle Ages (Germany)  

Four Chants by Hildegard of Bingen

Hildegard of Bingen (1098-1179) was a 12th-century visionary, theologian, composer, healer, artist, leader of women, Saint and Doctor of the Church. She is the first composer for whom we have a biography. While she was not the first to associate the mother of all things with nature on earth, she certainly took the Latin term viriditas – greenness – to new heights, infusing it with the sense of spiritual and physical health, oneness with all that is and the source of all growth. With plays on words, she mixed the ideas of nature, branch, virgin, Mary, music and motherhood, creating inspiring poetry and haunting musical chants.

Chants by Hildegard of Bingen, according to current scholarship. All translations by Amanda Cole. © Amanda Cole.

TRACK 1. O frondens virga. 3m20s. Voices: Amanda Cole (AC), Kim Kirkman (KK)

O frondens virga, in tua nobilitate stans sicut aurora procedit: nunc gaude et letare et nos debiles dignare a mala consuetudine liberare atque manum tuam porrige ad erigendum nos.

O blooming branch, you stand in your nobility, proceeding like the dawn. Now rejoice and be glad and deign to free us lesser beings from bad habits. Give us your hand to pull us up aright.

 

TRACK 2. AVe Generosa. 5m. Voice (with words): AC; Vocal drone: KK; Tibetan bowl: KK

Ave generosa gloriosa et intacta puella, tu pupilla castitatis, tu materia sanctitatis, que Deo placuit. Nam hec superna infusio in te fuit, quod supernum Verbum in te carnem induit. Tu candidum lilium quod Deus ante omnem creaturam inspexit.

O pulcherrima et dulcissima, quam valde Deus in te delectabatur, cum amplexionem caloris sui in te posuit, ita quod Filius eius de te lactatus est. Venter enim tuus gaudium habuit cum omnis celestis symphonia de te sonuit, quia virgo Filium Dei portasti, ubi castitas tua in Deo claruit.

Viscera tua gaudium habuerunt sicut gramen super quod ros cadit cum ei viriditatem infundit, ut et in te factum est, O mater omnis gaudii. Nunc omnis ecclesia in gaudio rutilet ac in symphonia sonnet propter dulcissimam Virginem et laudabilem Mariam, Dei Genitricem. Amen.

I behold you, noble, glorious and perfect maiden, model of chastity and God’s sacred stuff. Heaven’s essence is infused in you and the Heavenly Word is your flesh. You are the white lily which God sees before all else.

O most beautiful and sweet being, how deeply God delighted in you, when he placed in you his passionate embrace, so that you could suckle his son. Your womb rejoiced and the whole celestial symphony sounded in you. As a virgin, you carried God’s son–your uprightness is luminous in God.

Your flesh rejoiced, like grass that sings with dew, newly greened, O mother of all joy. Now let the whole church shine and resound in joy and praise of the most remarkable woman, Mary, source of God. Amen.

 

TRACK 3. Kyrie. 2m20s. Voice: AC; Psaltery: AC

Kyrie eleison, Christe eleison, Kyrie eleison.

Lord, have mercy. Christ, have mercy. Lord, have mercy.

 

TRACK 4. O virga ac Diadema. 5m. Voice 1: AC; Voice 2: KK

1a. O virga ac diadema purpure regis que es in clausura tua sicut lorica:
1b. Tu frondens floruisti in alia vicissitudine quam Adam omne genus humanum produceret.
2a. Ave, ave, de tuo ventre alia vita processit qua Adam filios suos denudaverat.
2b. O flos, tu non germinasti de rore nec de guttis pluviae nec aer desuper te volavit sed divina claritas in nobilissima virga te produxit.
3a. O virga, floriditatem tuam Deus in prima die creature sue praeviderat.
3b. Et te Verbo suo auream materiam, o laudabilis Virgo, fecit.
4a. O quam magnum est in viribus suis latus viri, de quo Deus formam mulieris produxit, quam fecit speculum omnis ornamenti sui et amplexionem omnis creature sue.
4b. Inde concinunt celestia organa et miratur omnis terra, o laudabilis Maria, quia Deus te valde amavit.
5a. O quam valde plangendum et lugendum est quod tristicia in crimine per consilium serpentis in mulierem fluxit.
5b. Nam ipsa mulier, quam Deus matrem omnium posuit, viscera sua
cum vulneribus ignorantie decerpsit, et plenum dolorem generi suo protulit.
6a. Sed, o aurora, de ventre tuo novus sol processit, qui omnia crimina Eve abstersit et maiorem benedictionem per te protulit quam Eva hominibus nocuisset.
6b. Unde, o Salvatrix, que novum lumen humano generi protulisti: collige membra Filii tui ad celestem armoniam.

O branch and diadem of royal purple in your necklace like a shield. Your shoots and buds sprout differently from Adam’s way of creation// Hello to you, from whose womb came another life, one of Adam’s sons. O flower, divine brilliance brought you forth, not dew, rain and wind// O branch, God saw your flowers on the first day of his creation. And with his Word he made you golden, o wondrous Virgin// O how powerful is that side of man, out of which God made woman, the mirror of all his beauty and the embrace of all his creation. And so the celestial organ resounds, and the whole earth admires you, wonder-Mary, whom God loved so deeply// O wail deeply that the serpent brought the sad crime on woman’s head. For that woman, whom God elected mother of all, snipped off her womb with ignorance and brought pain to all her children// But, O dawn, from your womb a new sun rises, washing away Eve’s sins, and a greater blessing flows from you than the harm done by Eve. And thus, O Mary, you brought new light to us. Gather all your children into celestial harmony.

 

PART II. RENAISSANCE (FRANCE)

In most cases we have chosen not to perform all verses of these songs.
If you would like to know the whole stroy of any song, please do not hesitate to contact Amanda at Amanda (at) PerformanceBrilliance (dot) com
All translations are by Amanda Cole.

TRACK 5. Gabriel Bataille (ca1574-1630) Je ne sçay s’il vous souvient .   Harp: KK; Psaltery: AC

1.Je ne sais s’il vous souvient/De notre amitié passée/Mais, hélas! Elle revient/Toujours dedans ma pensée.
4.Vous n’aviez lors que quinze ans,/J’en avais cinq d’avantage,/Et mon cœur depuis ce temps/N’a jamais été volage.
6.Hélas ! ce doux souvenir/Qui mes ennuis réconforte,/Fera-t-il point revenir/Notre amour qui semble morte?

1.I don’t know if you remember our old friendship, but it remains always in my thoughts.
4.You were only fifteen, and I twenty, and yet my heart has never strayed.
6.Oh, if only the memory of our secret meetings would bring our love back to life!

TRACK 6. Gabriel Bataille (ca1574-1630) La plus misérable amante.   Voice: AC; Viola: KK

1.La plus misérable amante/Qui soit en tout l’univers,/Qui meurt pour vous languissante,/Vous écrit ces tristes vers.
6.Faite au moins je vous supplie,/M’ôtant l’espéré flambeau,/Qu’après la fin de ma vie/Votre cœur soit mon tombeau.

1.The most miserable lover in the universe writes you these sad lines (of forbidden love).
6.Putting out this longed-for light, I implore you to make, at least when I die, your heart my tomb

TRACK 7. Jean-Baptiste Besard (1567-1625) Ma belle si ton âme Voices : AC, KK

1.Ma belle si ton âme
Se sent or’ allumer
De cette douce flamme
Qui nous force d’aimer,
Allons contant,
Allons sur la verdure,
Allons tandis que dure
Notre jeune Printemps. 

2.Avant que la journée
De notre âge qui fuit
Se sente environnée
Des ombres de la nuit,
Prenons loisir
De vivre notre vie,
Et sans craindre l’envie
Baisons-nous à plaisir.

5.Ça, finette affinée,
Ça, rompons le destin
Qui clos notre journée
Souvent des le matin.
Allons contant,
Allons sur la verdure,
Allons, tandis que dure
Notre jeune Printemps.

My love if your soul
Feels now lit up
With this sweet flame
That forces us to love,
Let us go singing and storytelling,
On to the grass,
Let us go while the lovely spring lasts.

Before the daytime
of our age (which flees)
is surrounded by the shadows of night,
Let us take the time to live our lives
And without fear of rivalry
Let’s kiss at leisure.

Here then, my lovely one,
Here, let’s break with destiny
Which ends our daytime
Often as early as the morning.
Let us go singing and storytelling,
On to the grass,
Let us go while the lovely spring lasts.

TRACK 8. Jean-Baptiste Besard. Rosette pour un peu d’absence Voice : AC, Drum : KK

1.Rosette pour un peu d’absence
Votre cœur vous avez changé,
Et moi sachant cette inconstance,
Le mien autre part j’ai rangé,
Jamais plus beauté si légère
Sur moi tant de pouvoir n’aura :
Nous verrons, volage bergère,
Qui premier s’en repentira.

2.Tandis qu’en pleurs je me consume,
Maudissant cet éloignement,
Vous, qui n’aimez que par coustume,
Caressez un nouvel amant.
Jamais légère girouette
Au vent si tôt ne se vira ;
Nous verrons, bergère Rosette,
Qui premier s’en repentira.

3.Où sont tant de promesses teintes,
Tant de pleurs versés en partant ?
Est-il vrai que ces tristes plaintes
Sortissant d’un cœur inconstant ?
Dieu ! que vous êtes mensongère !
Maudis soit-il qui vous croira !
Nous verrons, bergère légère,
Qui premier s’en repentira.

Rosette, during my absence
Your heart has changed,
And I, knowing this inconstancy,
I have put my own away,
Never again will beauty so lightly
Have its way with (have power over) me:
We will see, fickle shepherdess,
Who will repent the first. 

While I allow my tears consume me,
Damning this separation,
You, who love only by convenience,
Are caressing another love.
Never so lightly did a weathervane
Turn in the wind;
We will see, shepherdess Rosette,
Who will repent the first.

Where are so many promises tinted,
So many tears spilled in parting?
Is it true that these sad complaints
Come from an inconstant heart?
God! What a liar you are!
Woe betide whoever believes you!
We will see, lightweight (careless) shepherdess,
Who will repent the first.

TRACK 9. Adrian Le Roy (1520-1598) Quand le gril chante.    Voice: AC, Drum: KK

1.Quand le gril chante au son du gringoulin, derin din din din din din..
Ma dame dit qu’on lui huche Martin, derin din din din.
Gentil Martin, ô beau Martin
Saute Martin, danse Martin, din derin din din din din din din derin..
Ô que ne suis-je au lieu de ce Martin.

2.Au point du jour quand chante le serin, derin din din din din
(as above)

3.Quand le coq chante aprochant le matin, derin din din din din
(as above)

7.Lors dit grondant entre ses dens Martin, derin din din din din din
Ne suis-je pas un harrassé Martin, derin din din din
Soir et matin, toujours Martin
Martin, martin, venez Martin, din derin din din din din din din din derin
Je ne crois pas qu’on n’en veuille la fin.

1.When the cricket sings with the chirping sound
My lady calls for Martin
Nice Martin, beautiful Martin
Jump Martin, Dance Martin
O I wish I were Martin.. 

2.When the canary sings (as above)

3.When the cock crows (as above)

7.Then Martin says, snarling between his teeth,
Am I not a tormented Martin
Night and day, always Martin
Martin, Martin, come Martin
I don’t think anyone wants it to end.

TRACK 10. Jean-Baptiste Besard (1567-1625) Si jamais mon âme blessée.  Voice : AC, Harp : KK

1.Si jamais mon âme blessée
Loge ailleurs qu’en vous sa pensée,
Puissé-je être pour chastisement
Privé de tout contentement. 

4.Bref, soyez-moi toujours cruelle
Autant que vous me semblez belle,
Si je manque à votre beauté
D’amour et de fidélité.

 5.Non, si je ne suis toujours votre,
Et si j’en aime jamais d’autre
Puissé-je de tous les plaisirs
N’avoir jamais que les désirs.

1.If ever my wounded soul
Directs its musings away from you,
May I be deprived of all happiness
As a punishment. 

4.If ever the love of another
Warms my heart with her flame,
May I suffer the rigours
Of every kind of adversity. 

5.No, if I am not always yours,
And if I ever love another
May I have nothing of pleasures
But the desire for them. 

TRACK 11. Claude de Sermisy (ca 1495-1562) D’ou vient cela.  Violin: KK, Psaltery: AC

D’ou vient cela, belle je vous supplie
Que plus a moi ne vous recommandes ?
Toujours serai de tristesses rempli
Jusques à ce qu’au vrai je le mandes
Je crois que plus d’ami ne demandes
Ou mauvais bruit de moi on vous revelle,
Ou votre cœur a fait amour nouvelle. 

How come, o Beauty, I beg thee,
that you are not interested in me anymore?
I shall always be filled with sadness
Until you send me the truth.
I believe you no longer need a friend
Or someone has bad-mouthed me to you,
Or your heart has found new love.

PART III. FOLK MUSIC FROM THE BRITISH ISLES

 

SCOTLAND

 

TRACK 12. Mary, Queen of scots. Voice: AC, Harp: KK, Psaltery: AC

Happy’s the love that meets return;
But mine meets only slight and scorn:
O that I ne’er had seen yon tower,
That shelters Yarrow’s fairest flower!
‘Mang circling hills that guard her hame,
the bonny loch’s clear waters gleam,
and there lives she, whom nane can marrow,
Mary Scott, the flow’r of Yarrow.

 

ENGLAND

TRACK 13. I will give my love an apple (inspired by Benjamin Britten). Voice: AC, Harp: KK

I will give my love an apple without e’er a core,
I will give my love a house without e’er a door,
I will give my love a palace wherein she may be,
And she may unlock it without any key. 

My head is the apple without e’er a core
My mind is the house without e’er a door,
My heart is the palace wherein she may be,
And she may unlock it without any key.

 

TRACK 14. King Henry. VOICE: AC

King Henry was sent for all in the time of her need.
King Henry he came in the time of her need.

King Henry he stooped, and kissed her on the head.:
“What’s the matter with my flower makes her eyes look so red?”

“King Henry, King Henry, will you take me to thee,
to pierce my side for to save my baby?”

“Oh no, Queen Jane, such thing shall never be –
To lose my sweet flower for to save my baby.”

Queen Jane she turned over and fell into a swound,
Her side it was pierced and her baby was found.

There’s six followed after, and six carried her along,
King Henry he followed with his black mourning on.

King Henry he wept, and he wrung his hands til they’re sore.
The flower of England shall never be more. 

 

TRACK 15. Died for Love (inspired by Grainger). VOICE: AC, HARP: KK.

I wish my baby it -e- was born
Lying smilin’ on its father’s knee
Addend I was dead and in my grave
And green grass growin’ all over me. 

Dig me my grave long wide and deep,
Put a marble stone at my head and feet
But a turtle white dove put over above
For to let the world know that I died for love. 

 

TRACK 16. Willow, Willow (inspired by Grainger), VOICE: AC, HARP: KK.

The poor soul sat sighing by a sycamore tree
Sing willow, willow, willow
With hand on his bosom and his head upon his knee.

Refrain
: O willow, willow, willow, willow…
Shall be my garland
Sing all a green willow, willow, willow, willow,
Aye me, the green willow must by my garland.  

He sighed in his singing and made a great moan,
Sing willow, willow, willow
I am dead to all pleasure, my true love, she is gone
Refrain 

Take this for my farewell and latest adieu,
Sing willow, willow, willow,
Write this on my tomb: that in love I was true.
Refrain

SCOTLAND BY THE ENGLISH

Track 17. ‘Twas within a furlong of Edenborough Town (Purcell/?Jeremiah Clarke (A Scotch song). Voice: AC, Harp: KK

A note on the text: Words are by Thomas D’Urfey (1653-1723), English dramatist, whose patrons included Charles II, James II and William and Mary (after changing his religion). Published between 1698 and 1720 in his Wit and Mirth: or, Pills to Purge Melancholy. D’Urfey often collaborated with Henry Purcell, and the music is generally attributed to Purcell, but may in fact have been by Jeremiah Clarke.

 

‘Twas within a furlong of Edinborough Town,
In the Rosy time of year,
when the Grass was down,
Bonny Jockey Blith and Gay,
Said to Jenny making Hay,
Let’s sit a little (Dear) and prattle,
‘Tis a sultry Day:
He long had Courted the Black-Brow’d Maid,
But Jockey was a Wag
and would ne’er consent to Wed;
Which made her pish and phoo,
And cry out it will not do,
I cannot, cannot, cannot, wonnot,
monnot Buckle too.

He told her Marriage was grown a meer Joke,
And that no one Wedded now,
But the Scoundrel Folk;
Yet, my dear, thou shouldest prevail,
But I know not what I ail,
I shall dream of Clogs, and silly Dogs,
With Bottles at their Tail;
But I’ll give thee Gloves, and a Bongrace to wear,
And a pretty Filly-Foal,
To ride out and take the Air;
If thou ne’er will pish or phoo,
and cry it ne’er shall do,
I cannot, cannot, cannot, wonnot,
monnot Buckle too.

That you’ll give me Trinkets, cry’d she, I believe,
But ah! what in return
must your poor Jenny give;
When my Maiden Treasure’s gone,
I must gang to London Town,
And Roar, and Rant, and Patch and Paint,
And Kiss for half a Crown:
Each Drunken Bully oblige for Pay,
And earn an hated Living
in an odious Fulsom way;
No, no, it ne’er shall do,
for a Wife I’ll be to you,
Or I cannot, cannot, cannot, wonnot,
monnot Buckle too.

IRELAND

TRACK 18. Percy French (words) and Helen French (music). Ach, I dunno. Voice: AC, Harp: KK.

I’m simply surrounded by lovers since Da made his fortune in land;
They’re comin’ in crowds like the plovers to ax for me hand.
There’s clerks and policemen and teachers, some sandy, some black as a crow;
Ma says ye get used to the creatures, but, ach, I dunno!

The convent is in a commotion to think of me taking a spouse,
And wonder I hadn’t a notion of taking the vows.
‘Tis a beautiful life and a quiet, and keeps ye from going below,
As a girl I thought I might try it, but, ach I dunno!

I’ve none but meself to look after, an’ marriage it fills me with fears,
I think I’d have less of the laughter and more of the tears.
I’ll not be a slave like me mother, with six of us all in a row,
Even one little baby’s a bother, but, ach, I dunno! 

There’s a lad that has taken me fancy, they say he’s a bit of a limb,
Though marriage is terrible chancy, I’d chance it with him.
He’s coming tonight, oh I tingle from the top of me head to me toe,
I’ll tell him I’d rather live single, but, ach, I dunno! 

French, Percy. (1980) ‘Prose, Poems & Parodies.’  Dublin, Helicon Limited