Most clavecinistes of the period also played the organ, a profession that was highly regarded, according to Mr Ancelet, a forthright observer of the eighteenth-century musical scene:
Let us now speak of wind instruments. I will begin with the organ, which is the father of harmony. For perfection it only lacks the ability to swell and diminish the sound. With the advantage of a continuous tone, no instrument can compare with it, for the organ forms by itself a concert of which the ensemble is perfect. What wonderful sounds, what variety in its different stops, what a career this majestic instrument provides to the musician who has some intellect and talent.1
D’Anglebert, who began his career as an organist, was employed by the Jacobins in 1660, when the organ was rebuilt. In the Preface to his Pieces de clavecin, he says that he is including five fugues (all on the same subject) and a quatuor in order to provide a sample of what he had previously written for the organ.2 After being appointed Ordinaire de la musique de la chambre du roy pour le clavecin in 1662, he probably shifted his attention to the harpsichord because of the demands of his new position. The six organ selections in Pieces de clavecin are D’ Anglebert’s only organ works. They may have been written in the early 1660s, making them roughly contemporaneous with François Roberday’s Fugues et caprices (1660) for organ or instruments.3 Roberday (1624-1680) purchased an important title as one of the Queen’s Valets de chambre in 1659. He had personal as well as professional ties with D’Anglebert, for the latter married Roberday’s sister-in-law; and Roberday’s wife, Charlotte Champagne, was godmother to D’ Anglebert’s son Nicolas.
Before Guillaume-Gabriel Nivers’s first organ book in 1665, organ music in France was predominantly imitative. The definition of fugue in seventeenth-century France refers only to imitative technique and not to the structure generally associated with the term: “The simple fugue is a pure and simple imitation of the subject in which the parts enter after each other in similar motion.”4 The French fugue grave has the reserved character of a ricercar or fantasia, while the fugue de mouvement conveys the livelier movement of a canzona.
Very little French organ music has survived between the polyphonic organ works of Jean Titelouze (c. 1562-1633), the noted Rouen organist, and the compositions of Roberday. Charles Racquet (organist of Notre Dame in Paris from 1618 to 1643) wrote twelve Versets de Psaumes en duo sur les 12 modes and a lengthy Fantasie in which the subject is transformed in four continuous contrapuntal, contrasting sections.5 The Oldham Manuscript, dating from the 1650s, contains organ works by Louis Couperin: 33 fugues (some entitled Fantasie), two preludes, six basses de trompette, two duos, and 27 plainsong settings.6
The organ works of D’Anglebert and Roberday reflect the influence of the Frescobaldi school, transmitted via Johann Jakob Froberger, who was acclaimed during his visit to Paris in 1652. Despite the great turmoil and civil strife of the Fronde uprising against Mazarin, a concert with some 80 voices and as many instruments was given in Froberger’s honor at the chapel of the Jacobins. A sarcastic account of the magnificence of this event appeared in La Muse historique. . . . “Lettre du 29 septembre 1652”:
. . . Ayant en ce lieu réunies
Mille charmantes harmonies,
Mille et mille accents délicats,
Dont meme Orphée eût fait grand cas
Enchantèrent de leurs merveilles
Plus de douze cent trente oreilles. . . . 7
Jean Loret, the author of this poem, found it “ridiculous” that all this splendor was not intended for the gods, or even for kings and queens, but for a certain German piffre (“stout person”). This trésmédiocre personnage, who was the Emperor’s organist, can only be Froberger. His work was well known in Paris,’ for he and Chambonnières knew and respected each other.
Froberger’s monothematic fugal works employ the transformation of the subject in a succession of short sections in varied time signatures.8 A ricercar may contain from three to five sections; its countersubjects are usually more animated than its subjects; and cadences are found at the ends of sections. Froberger’s technique involves continual entries of the subject and answer (but rarely transposition of the subject), great variety in the harmonization, and little emphasis on episodes. His canzonas and capriccios have lively subjects and slow harmonic rhythm, are mostly in fugal variation form, and usually include a section in triple meter or gigue rhythm.
The Advertissement to Roberday’s Fugues et caprices states that three of the pieces are by Frescobaldi, Ebner, and Froberger, and that Roberday’s subjects come from de la Barre, Coupperin [sic], Cambert, D’Anglebert, Froberger, Betalli, and Cavalli. Froberger’s Ricercar I from the 1656 collection forms the basis of the fifth fugue in Roberday’s edition, with a third section added, but the pieces by Frescobaldi and Ebner have not been identified. The chief difference between Roberday’s fugues and caprices is rhythmic; and his pieces exhibit Froberger’s traits of sectional construction and thematic transformation. Both Roberday and Froberger follow the Italian fugal practice of writing in partitura, or open-score notation, which makes it possible to perform the pieces with instruments.
D’Anglebert’s five fugues also resemble Froberger’s “Italian” style but are written in keyboard score. D’Anglebert expands and divides the form, however, making each section a complete fugue containing 30, 40, 38, 33, and 53 measures respectively, as compared with the 20, 25, 23, and 17 measures in the sections in Roberday’s sixth Fugue and Caprice. D’Anglebert uses the first subject as the basis for the remaining fugues (see Ex. 1).
Fugue graue pour l’orgue, marked fort lentement and written in common time with doubled note values, conveys the sombre mood of a ricercar. The second fugue is in a slow compound duple meter with doubled note values (the time signature of 3 indicated triple movement in a variety of contexts), while the third fugue, in standard common time, employs a dotted rhythm. The conjunct motion, undotted rhythm, and 12/8 time of the fourth fugue resemble an Italian giga, in contrast to the dotted rhythms and compound duple meter of the last fugue. These compositions present an interesting study of French time signatures that affect tempo (see chapter 3). This usage appears to have been intentional on D’Anglebert’s part, for the Preface to his edition refers to these fugues as being varied in different mouvements. The first and third fugues are both in common time, but the larger note values of the first indicate a slower tempo. Likewise, the second and fifth fugues are in compound duple meter, but the 6/4 time and smaller note values of the fifth specify a faster tempo. The fourth fugue’s 12/8 signature (Italian in origin) implies the quickest tempo of all. Thus the first fugue is the most majestic and grave (also because it is marked fort lentement), the second is very slow, the third resembles the slow tempo of a conventional seven-teenth-century French allemande, the fourth is lively, and the fifth is probably moderate.
D’Anglebert’s four-voice fugues do not modulate, and they use internal cadences only occasionally. The fugues are constructed of entries of the subject and its (usually) tonal answer in a pseudo-counterpoint in which successive entries are made without regard to maintaining the identity of the individual voices (in contrast to the voice leading of partitura notation). In general, D’Anglebert’s fugues follow the seventeenth-century French practice of being imitative but not overly contrapuntal; i.e., fugal entries are often harmonized rather than being involved in the interplay of independent melodic lines. Although countersubjects and other fugal devices are infrequent or nonexistent, stretto is often found. According to Nivers, the common order of fugal entries is from top to bottom, but D’Anglebert follows his own formulas: TASB, TABS, BTAS, BTAS, and BTAS respectively. The second fugue is unusual for a French fugue, having an entry order of subject, answer, answer, subject. Occasionally D’Anglebert takes a fragment from the subject and tosses it among the voices in quick succession, as in mm. 33-36 of the second fugue and mm. 29-31 of the third.
D’Anglebert’s fugues succeed in large part because of their rhythmic vitality (including cross-rhythms and hemiolas) and their varied harmonic and dissonance treatment. Harmonic restlessness, the propelling force of D’Anglebert’s style, is created by his use of suspensions and other nonharmonic tones, seventh chords, 6/4 sonorities, false relations, oscillations between major and minor forms of the same triad, and avoidance of root-position triads. His fugue subject uses both the lowered and the raised sixth degree of the scale to produce a typical seventeenth-century harmonic ambiguity. In the course of the fugues, the other modal scale degrees (3, 4, and 7), also found in both forms as a result of the linear movement, are often responsible for creating false relations and other dissonances. D’Anglebert’s second fugue includes cross-rhythm between the top voice and the lower voices (m.29), stretto (m.26), a dissonant passing tone (or an augmented mediant triad, beat 2 of m.28) emphasized with a trill, and a cross-relation (m.29), as shown in Ex. 2.
The chromaticism of these fugues, a trait borrowed from the Italians, is found only occasionally in D’Anglebert’s harpsichord works. Also confined primarily to the organ pieces is the frequent use of the 6/4 sonority (which is used cadentially in the harpsichord pieces). D’Anglebert resolves one dissonance to another principally in his organ works and in his gaillardes, sarabandes, and the passacaille. His first four fugues close with pedal points—the first two fugues on the dominant only, the third and fourth on the dominant followed by the tonic.
A trademark of D’Anglebert’s writing is the large number of ornamentation symbols, so it is not surprising to see as many in the fugues as in the harpsichord pieces. It has been suggested that Roberday’s works should be similarly ornamented, but no satisfactory answer can be given to this question at present. Roberday says that three of the works in his volume are by Italian or German composers (it may be significant that D’Anglebert’s Quatuor, written in a polyphonic Italian style, has no ornamentation whatever). Moreover, approximately 30 years separate Roberday’s Fugues et caprices and D’Anglebert’s Pièces de clavecin. Although the latter’s fugues were probably written around 1660, it is possible that the ornamentation was added later.
D’Anglebert’s only other known organ piece is a quatuor (piece in four parts) based on the Kyrie of Gregorian Mass IV, Cunctipotens Genitor Deus. Directions in the Preface of his Pièces de clavecin specify three different keyboards plus the pedalboard, with stops of equal weight and different timbre in order to distinguish the different voices. The Quatuor appears to be the earliest composition in French literature requiring this manner of performance, and D’Anglebert’s explicit instructions seem to indicate that it is unusual. Each voice of this stile antico jewel presents the three subjects, given only partially in a few instances, in a different order. The first subject employs the first six notes of the first phrase of the Kyrie (but with a raised leading tone); the second subject consists of the second phrase; and the third subject includes the first four notes of the third phrase. The polyphony of the Quatuor is austere, without the chromaticism of the fugues. Beautiful suspensions, following one after another, produce a sublime effect quite unlike that of the fugues. The skillful treatment of the three subjects, which continually overlap, resembles that of Frescobaldi’s fantasias. It is unusual writing for the period, for, as noted above, the French tended to harmonize subjects rather than work them out contrapuntally. The quatuor for four keyboards did not achieve great popularity, for only a few isolated examples are found after D’Anglebert; e.g., in J. A. Guilain, Pièces d’orgue (1706) and Louis Marchand, Livre d’orgue (c.1732).
D’Anglebert held the position of organist to the Jacobins in 1660, when Estienne Énoc, one of the leading builders of the time, was instructed to enlarge the organ and revoice the reeds, tierces, and mixtures.9 Énoc was to add an echo division containing a five-rank Cornet, but a little later he was asked to enlarge the Grande orgue, making it truly an instrument of magnificent proportions (an asterisk marks the new stops):
The remainder of the organ consisted of a Cornet on the Récit; a 37-note Cornet and Voix Humaine on the Écho; and a Montre 4’, Flute 4’, Nasard, Tierce, and Fourniture II on the Positif. In view of the size of this instrument, it is unusual that there is neither a pedal division nor an 8’ stop on the Positif. Perhaps stops that did not need repair were omitted from the contract, or maybe the case for the Positif was old and small, for the contract calls for replacing a Régal (probably 8’) by a Fourniture II.
D’Anglebert gives no suggestions for registration, but from instructions in editions by Nivers, Lebègue, Boyvin, and others of the period, we can infer that fugal works use reed stops or the Jeu de Tierce combination:
Nivers (1665) says that fugues graves can be played with the gros Jeu de Tierce (consisting of the Bourdon, Prestant, Tierce, and Quinte on the Grand orgue; and possibly the Doublette and stops of 8’ or 16’ pitch) with tremulant, or the Trompette without tremulant.10 One ordinarily uses only the Bourdon with reed stops; and the Cromhorne can even be played alone. Nevertheless, with the Trompette one may add the Bourdon, Prestant, Clairon, and sometimes even the Cornet. With the Voix humaine one can add the Bourdon, Flûte, and the tremulant with slow wind. Other fugues can be played on a Jeu médiocre or the petit Jeu de Tierce on the Positif (the same pitches as the gros Jeu de Tierce, but on the Positif).
For a fugue grave, Jacques Boyvin (c.1690) prescribes the Trompette, Bourdon, and Prestant, with the Cromhorne coupled from the Positif’, and adds that fugues can also be played on the Positif with the “Cromhorne, bourdon [8’] and a 4’ foundation stop.”13
Lambert Chaumont (1695) distinguishes between a fugue gaye, which is played on a bright combination of the pettite tierce—Bourdon, Montre, Nasard, etc. (probably on the Positif), and a fugue grave employing the Trompette, Clairon, and Nasard (on small organs, the Cromhorne and Bourdon 4’).14
Three of Louis Couperin’s fugal works in the Oldham Manuscript are designated for the Cromhorne (Nos. 20, 57, and 65) and four are to be played on the tierce du Grand Clavier avec le tremblant lent (Nos. 29, 58, and 63, while No.64 has no reference to the tremulant).15
Given these prescriptions for registration from the late seventeenth century, performers might best choose their own for D’Anglebert’s fugues. His fourth fugue, in an Italian giga style, however, would probably be more effective on the Cromhorne combination or on Chaumont’s pettite tierce.
A much later instruction for the registration of the four-keyboard quatuor was furnished in 1770 by Dom Bédos de Celles, who specifies:
Soprano voice: Trompette of the Récit, or two 8’ stops (if they are separate)
Alto voice: small Jeu de Tierce of the Grand orgue
Tenor voice: Cromorne and Prestant of the Positif
Bass voice: Pédale de Flûte, or feu de Tierce
Soprano voice: Cornet of the Récit
Alto voice: Trompette and Prestant of the Grand orgue
Tenor voice: Jeu de Tierce of the Positif
Bass voice: Pédale de Flûte
This manner of playing a Quatuor is difficult to perform since one is scarcely able to play the two upper parts because of being obliged to use only the right hand on two different manuals, or one must use only the left hand to play the middle parts on two separate manuals. But one can also play the quatuor on three keyboards.16
The performance of D’Anglebert’s Quatuor would be easier on a French organ of the period, since the manuals are closer together. It is possible to use a modern instrument if one plays the tenor voice on the top manual, the alto voice on the middle manual, and the soprano voice on the bottom manual.
D’Anglebert’s organ works, which represent a high point in French keyboard polyphony, were probably written just before Nivers’s Premier livre d’orgue (1665) inaugurated a new direction for French organ writing. In the next period numerous short pieces in widely varying styles, grouped together by key or mode, were intended to alternate with portions of the Mass. These groups often included a short fugue, but the remaining movements (generally homophonic) were designed to take advantage of the French organ’s coloristic possibilities. This new style was to dominate French organ writing for many years.