Clement Janequin: La guerre

January 11, 2013

Today some fascinating music from a relatively little-known source: Clement Janequin probably wrote this chanson to celebrate the victory of the French over the Swiss at the Battle of Marignan in 1515 — not that any of us know or much care about that battle. The reason to hear it is not the battle, but the music! If you think all Renaissance music is solemn and stately in the Palestrina manner, you’re in for a surprise. La guerre is here given a spectacular live performance by The King’s Singers. It takes about two minutes to really warm up, so if you do decide to listen don’t abandon it too soon.

I would like to link to an English translation, but I cannot find one — not that one could follow it anyway. The first few minutes set up the battle, the middle section portrays the battle itself (and this is where the real fireworks happen), and the final section celebrates the French victory. Here we go:

2 Responses to “Clement Janequin: La guerre”

  1. Keith Says:

    Great piece – I’ve just started to learn it with my choir and am feeling a tiny bit intimidated!

  2. cburrell Says:

    I’d be more than a tiny bit intimidated, Keith! If you’re not totally overwhelmed, I expect you’ll be fine in the end. Good luck.


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