Autant en emporte le vent

Pierre de la Rue

Autant en emporte le vent

About this work

"It is as if gone with the wind, a kiss -- even full on the lips -- if the heart does not add its touch." So runs the apparent refrain of a Rondeau Cinquain intended for a courtly musical setting following its forme fixe. The music which survives by Pierre de la Rue, however, betrays a more "modern" ethos towards this text. The exquisitely illuminated collection of chansons calligraphed for Marguerite of Austria by Petrus Alamire contains distinguished examples of the fixed-form courtly chanson by Johannes Ockeghem, side-by-side with freer, even motet-influenced music by a later generation. La Rue's Autant en emporte le vent exemplifies the newer approach.

La Rue observes the breaks in his poetic lines, and even their rhyme, but completely ignores the two-section musical form which a fixed Rondeau would require. Instead, his musical form follows, and highlights, the sense of the text. The first couplet arrives in two pairs of duets (twice repeating the text) without conclusive cadences. The fuller texture chosen for the third line also repeats the text, with a gracefully falling melismatic gesture in the upper voice (perhaps an evocation of the wind itself). The fourth line reaches the heart of the text, even as it speaks of the heart's consummation. La Rue presents this central concept in a serious point of imitation in all four voices, leading to a wonderfully sweet and fleeting cadence upon B flat (the heartfelt moment of the kiss?). The final line musically rhymes with the third, repeating its two full-voiced phrases with the wind-motif blowing them to a final cadence.