10. The Panmure Lute Manuscripts

The Panmure collection of manuscripts at the National Library of Scotland contains among other items three very interesting lute manuscripts , known as Pan 4, Pan 5, and Pan 8. The collection also contains three highly important manuscripts for viol of music by Sainte Colombe and Marais, these manuscripts being associated with the Maule family of Panmure, north of my home town of Dundee on the east coast of Scotland.

Pan 5 (circa 1640) belonged to a Lady Jean Campbell, daughter of the Earl of Loudon, Ayrshire, on the west coast of Scotland. The connection with the Panmure collection is that she married George Maule when he was heir to the Panmure estate. Judging by the content of her lute manuscript, Lady Jean was a talented player of the 10c lute in both Harp Sharp and Harp Flat tunings. She is likely to have familiarity with the two other Panmure lute manuscripts, and if that is the case then she had become a practitioner of the 12c lute in a variety of tunings, or “accords nouveaux”. It is thought that Lady Jean had a French lute teacher who, in which case, is the likely source of Pan 8 and perhaps Pan 4.

It is my intention to explore Pan 4 and Pan 8 with the 12c lute, but I have already made seventeen recordings of the music from Pan 5, though more will almost certainly follow:

And in Harp Flat tuning, nos 49 and 50:

Pan 4 Overview

Catalogue number: NLS MS 9451.

Contains 23 French lute pieces on 21 pages.

Composers: Vinsan, Vieux Gaultier, Bouvié, Pinell, Hautman, Gaultier d’Angleterre, and Jeune Gaultier – all spelling from the manuscript.

Tunings: D minor, D major, Dm with a C# 11th course.

Comments: the nine pieces by Pinell are almost all in D Major: Prelude, Almande, Courante, Almande, Almande, Almande, Courante, Courante, Sar(abande), with one Sarabande in Dm tuning. The last item – a Courante by Jeune Gaultier – is marked “sur l’arrival de Gaultier d’Angliterre.

I have not been given permission to share any of the copies I paid for, but the following pdf is easily found on the web, so I see no harm in placing it here, but will remove it if asked. It is not my copy:

So far I have made two videos from the manuscript, the first a collection of three pieces by Germaine Pinel (c.1600 – 1661 – the year Lully was named Superintendent of the Royal Music), or Pinell as the MS has it. He was one of the leading pre-Lully lute players, perfecting the older precious style instigated by the Gaultiers.

Here are the scores I used, with some pencil emendations (if you have good eyesight) here and there.

The biggest changes are in the Sarabande, where I took out a whole bar. It is a very different sarabande than we are used to associating with a baroque suit. For a start, the A section is only four bars long before the repeat sign. The B section is 5 bars long, the C section 8 bars, and a D section of 19 bars! I felt there was something not right about the B section, but reducing it to 4 bars seemed to tidy it up a lot – you are welcome to play it otherwise! The final 4.5 bars seem to beg to played with a petite reprise. You will notice that I employ a little judicious light strumming, as is sometimes noted by French players, to hint at the more playful dance-based roots of the sarabande. This is not a deep, contemplative, emotional rollercoaster of a Bach or a Weiss, and allows us to consider the comments from early to mid 18th-century composers that the courante is slower than a sarabande:

“lovely and tender…sweet hope…something heartfelt, something longing, and also something joyful” Johann Mattheson, 1739

“This piece is ordinarily made up of a measure with three slow beats” Jean-Jacques Rousseau, 1768

“…the noble courante, slow and majestic” Rémond de Saint-Mard, 1741 

“…it is beaten in a very slow three” Jean-Pierre Freillon-Poncein, 1700

“a very slow dance that inspires an air of nobility more than the other dances” Pierre Rameau, 1725

“the sarabande is actually a slow menuet, and the courante a very slow sarabande” Jean-Baptiste d’Alembert, 1752

Yet Pinel died in 1661, fifty to a hundred years before those utterances. My performances should be regarded as experimental, avoiding my learned habit of playing sarabandes slow and courantes somewhat faster. I find the results interesting, but might well interpret the pieces differently next time I play these beautiful pieces.

Note the tuning is D Major – all the F strings are now F#, although the 11th course remains C natural.

Now a suite in Dm by Vinsan:

I know nothing about Vinsan, though Vincent is known as a composer for lute in France at this time, though not a lot is know about him either. It is tempting to see these four pieces, grouped as they are at the start of the manuscript, as forming a suite, as opposed to just examples of pieces in the same key. An introspective Prelude gives way to an equally introspective Allemande, which rises from slumber in its concluding bars. A somewhat lyrical Courante gives way to another livelier Sarabande, leading me to repeat my exploration of tempi mentioned above.

I think I only made one emendation, and agonised over it:

The bass note in bar 5 is a low D that just doesn’t sound right, so I changed it to an F, though the F sounded too simple, too “right”. I must have vacillated between the two options fifty times…I play an F on the video. You might decided otherwise. And so might I, next time I play it.

Jacques Gaultier: Allemande de Gaultier d’angleterre de la dernière composition

Jacques Gaultier’s last composition? We’ll never know for sure, but that does seem to be the claim here. It has some decidedly odd moments, worth repeated listening to make sense of it all. The top line of the second page has some unusual and magical moments as it hovers around the lutes lower mid region, seeking out shadows in the dark. It’s not an easy listen for a sensitive ear, and I feel he is struggling with his thoughts and emotions, going to some dark places, then pulling out and trying to walk straight, then failing. And on it goes. An extraordinary few minutes, which even manages to fit in the Lachrimae motif. Written towards the end of his life, is he aware the end is nigh?

So much for Pan 4. There are pieces I did not record, some by Pinel, others by Bouvier, Hautman, Vieux Gaultier, and someone apparently called Confesse. The music I did record is very beautiful, often dark and searching, with only the sarabandes bringing a smile to the proceedings. I’ve had this manuscript in my possession for 30 years, but have not had time to look at. Well, I took the time and am glad I did so. It gave me a great introduction to my new 12c lute, and we have bonded well.

Pan 8 Overview

Catalogue number NLS MS9449

Contains around 100 pieces in 57 folios, commencing with six keyboard pieces.

Composers: anon, but Mézangeau and Pinel have been identified.

Tunings: Dm plus three variants: f d bb g d a GFEbDCBb, f d b g d a GFEDCB, f d a f d a G F E D Bb A

Comments: Not much to say before I start work on it. I very much like the music of Pinel and Mézangeau, so am looking forward to playing their music on my new 12c lute!

More anon…

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