Le Jeu du Roi Qui Jamais ne Ment

Froia Arme (Lord Have Mercy

Le Jeu du Roi Qui Jamais ne Ment (2006)
3 tenor recorders, 1 bass recorder

Live performance. Commissioned and premiered by Quadriventus – Uberlândia – Casa da Cultura, June, 09th – 2011 (Sesc Instrumental Project)

Duration: 11’

Masquerades were dances of the Kings and of the Court in centuries XV, XVI and XVII. Despite of being a form of entertainment of the royalty, the Masquerades also brought the game of lying and disguise because the wearing of the mask. There was a game of seduction and risk, of talking with masked people, trying to discover their true personality and intentions. It comes to my mind the famous phrase of Oscar Wilde: “Give a man a mask and he will tell you the truth”.

Le Jeu du Roi Who Never Ne Ment (The Game of the King Who Always Lied) is a children’s game practiced in Europe since the Middle Ages. It is a game of divination, in a certain way practiced also among the children, where the proposer is asked a question, which, in answering, can speak the truth or a lie. It will be up to the participants to realize it!

During the Middle Age, wealthy people used to own a mechanical and portable organ, some automatically operated, other operated manually through a hand crank. These artifacts would play short popular songs. These orgue de barbarie (in French), barrel organ (in English) or realejo (in Portuguese) made the joy of adults and children and performed the same function that cd / mp3 / ipod players play today.

“Le Jeu du Roi Qui Jamais Ne Ment” seeks to portray these elements. The aspect of the lie, of the false baroque and vivaldianisms behind the sonority of the recorder’s ensemble. Everything is a great staging. I get the image of a liar, lonely king in his chamber listening to small songs in his portable organ, while in the hall a masked ball is taking place. There is a game of suspicion and falsehood in the air. The recorder quartet should sound like this portable organ, this barrel organ: naive, awkward, almost childish…
In short, “Le Jeu du Roi qui Jamais ne Ment” is a great farce, which burlesquely seeks to portray old memories, moods and social situations where no one truly exposes him/herself. Besides, the work functions itself as an exercise of style…

1st masquerade: tripartite form [A-B-A]: as Entry (entrée) brings a memory of the canzones of sounding of William Blade, or even of the bransles and danses basses of Claude Gervaise …

2nd masquerade: tripartite form [A-B-A] – brings to mind, in part A, the theme of da caccia [tenor 1, bars 2 and 3]. Part B, contrasting is also a vivaldian allusion to the theme of the da caccia sonata. Simple harmonic degrees [I, IV, V, I], melody in parallel thirds, and basso d’Albert …

3rd masquerade: an almost giga-shaped rondeau. Composed of a simple ostinato and a simple melodic line, in the manner of a small two voices invention.

4th masquerade: the main theme is a quotation: terribilis sicut est, taken from the Gregorian liturgy and used by Guillaume de Machaut in several of his compositions. I adopt in this masquerade, the medieval compositional technique of ars subtlior. The theme is presented in organum of fifths. In the sequence, the theme is retrograded textually. Every two measures, there is a succession of inversions of the main theme (inversion of inversion; Retrograde inversion of inversion etc.]. The sixteenth-note pattern that passes through all the voices is a rhythmic variant of the main theme, one third below.

5th masquerade: tripartite form [A-B-A]. Like the first masquerade, it alludes to the memory of the ballettos in Michael Praetorius style.

6th masquerade: it is a ‘broken’ slow waltz, sounding in a ‘drunk’ way, as coming from an out of tune barrel organ.

7th masquerade: it is a presto based on a motif of a violin concerto by Vivaldi. The development of the material is done tautologically by repetitions, cutouts and collages of the main motif.

For score requests and other informations, please contact the composer.