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Josquin Desprez El Grillo (for SATB Recorder Quartet)

A famous ‘frottola’ from a Renaissance genius, in an

idiomatic arrangement for recorder quartet...

Josquin Desprez (c.1450 – 1521), or Josquin des Prez/Près, or Iosquinus Pratensis, or Iodocus a Prato, or just Josquin (and probably Joey/J-dude to his chums) was, however you choose to spell his name, a big  noise in the early Renaissance. He wrote in pretty much every genre of his time, both sacred and secular. And did it really rather well. This little piece, in the style of an Italian frottola for vocal quartet, is a teensy chip of daft fluff from his massive choral workbench. Like the similar Parisian chanson, a frottola is mostly homophonic in texture, which allows the wit of the text to be heard clearly, and also permits the composer the liberty of indulging in a little word painting.

The text of ‘El Grillo’ is as follows…

…which, according to some, is in effect a very elaborate invoice, in metaphor, from the composer to an employer, or, according to others, is about Carlo Grillo, a singer friend and colleague of Josquin, and tells of his prowess, vocal and otherwise…


Flute, Oboe, Clarinet in Bb, Horn in F, Bassoon

Descant, Treble,

Tenor and Bass Recorders

Josquin Desprez - El Grillo mp3 sample Free Download  Josquin Desprez - El Grillo SAMPLE.jpg FREE

El grillo è buon cantore

Che tiene longo verso.

Dalle beve grillo canta.

Ma non fa come gli altri uccelli

Come li han cantato un poco,

Van de fatto in altro loco

Sempre el grillo sta pur saldo,

Quando la maggior el caldo

Alhor canta sol per amore.

The cricket is a good singer;

He can sing long notes.

He sings all the time.

But he isn't like the other birds.

If they've sung a little bit,

They go somewhere else;

The cricket remains where he is

When the heat is very fierce.

Then he sings only for love.