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We know very little about Paschal de L'Estocart. Only a few traces of his life have come down to us. Born in Noyon, Picardie, around 1537 — according to his portrait — we know nothing of his early musical training. His name appears in Lyon in 1559, in connection with some unimportant administrative matters, and again in 1565 on the occasion of his marriage. After this, nothing is heard of him until 1581, when he enrolled at Basel University. There can be no doubt that Lestocart's sympathy for the ideas of the reformation contributed to his settling in Calvinist territory, and to having his work published in Switzerland, then a busy printing centre — particularly Geneva, with its many music presses.
The rest of his life is completely lost in obscurity, aside from two dates that offer some point of reference: he appears on the 1584 list of prize winners in the Puy de Sainte-Cecile, an annual competition, and on the 1587 register of petitions presented to Henry III, asking for a lay position in the abbey of Frémont, which was rejected. Could it be that he converted back to Catholicism, or even that he never fully embraced Calvinism?
This duality is clearly reflected in the collection of the Sacrae Cantiones, with its dedication to Count Palatine Johann Casimir — a well-known Calvinist during the Wars of Religion — on the one hand, and on the other its latin pieces, albeit a small part of the bundle.
The musical language of L'Estocart is influenced, as with all the French composers of his generation, by that of Lassus. The whole range of compositional techniques, from imitative counterpoint to homorhythmic chordal writing, are employed to serve the goal of expression, the neatness with which the musical syntax matches that of the text, rhythmic variety and the sense of movement, and the wide use of rhetoric figures. The greatest originality lies in the boldness of the harmonic language. The points of greatest harmonic daring are a result of the voice-leading, producing clashes that cannot be missed by the attentive listener.
Established by Bruno Boterf, the twelve-voice ensemble, LUDUS MODALIS — »The Mode Game« — has set itself the task of restoring the sound palette of sacred and secular polyphonic repertoire of the Renaissance and pre-Baroque. The group tries to distinguish itself from a too-generalised approach to interpretation, by concentrating on those aspects of performance practice often neglected, such as pronunciation, an intonation governed by the use of the different modes, temperament, a search for variety in vocal sonority, and — above all — a scrupulous respect for the original sources, reinforced by collaboration with musicologists. By adopting a practice of combining male, female and children's voices, Ludus Modalis strives to be an ensemble, in the first place, of colours, where the mixing of contrasting timbres is seen as a source of richness, and where »beauty«is not the predominant notion, but rather an ornamental aspect.
Catherine Greuillet, Nathalie Marec, sopranos
Sophie Toussaint, Fr. Jean-Christophe Clair, altos
Bruno Boterf, Hugues Primard, Vincent Bouchot, tenors
François Fauché, Jean-Michel Durang, Marc Busnel, basses
A singer with a passion for the music of the Renaissance and the early Baroque, BRUNO BOTERF regularly performs 16th century repertoire, whether in duo, with A doi tenori (an ensemble begun with Gilles Ragon), or as soloist, working with the ensembles Akadêmia, Les Witches, William Byrd and La Fenice. He pays particular attention to French repertoire of the time, with a preference for the Air de Cour of the end of the 1500s, and the polyphonic French chanson which he has performed with Ensemble Clément Janequin for more than twenty years. Bruno Boterf has taught at the Conservatoire of Tours, helping begin a Renaissance vocal interpretation class. The creation of Ludus Modalis was a natural consequence of his teaching practice.