About a manuscript of serious and drinking songs from 1660-80
The discovery of an old musical source is always a moving, fascinating moment that enriches our knowledge of repertoires and practices and in itself justifies the involvement that brings together bibliophiles, artists and researchers in the same enthusiasm. The recent discovery of a French manuscript of secular songs from the 17th century is one of those special moments that must be shared, so it is to that discovery that this recording invites us.
Such discoveries are rare: this manuscript, currently in a private collection, is all the more precious given its breadth and the importance of its content. Indeed, the collection contains no less than 161 songs in one, two and three parts from the years 1660-80 and bears important witness to this musical genre, emblematic of urbane courtesy in 17th-century France. Even though all the songs are anonymous, patient study of similarities with contemporary musical and poetic corpuses, printed or in manuscript, allowed for bringing out a recurrent and quasi-exclusive name: Bertrand de Bacilly (1621-1690), one of the principal singer-composer-teachers from the reign of Louis XIV. This exclusivity confers a particular status on this source, the manuscripts of French songs that have come down to us being, for the most part, anthological. In addition, on the musical level, it provides major testimony as to the practice of singing during that era and especially on the demanding technique of ornamentation à la française, which was one of the principal characteristics of this art de bien chanter or 'art of singing well' that lasted up to the end of the 17th century and accounted for the renown of French singing.
“Zanetti gives modern listeners a fine demonstration of how it would have been done by Bacilly and his equals, her ample technical ability enhanced by a subtlety of expression that beautifully communicates the meaning of every word and phrase in Bacilly's texts.” MusicWeb International, June 2012