From Dowland to Bach, from Monsieur de Ste Colombe to Vivaldi: Anyone who has ever believed that viol repertoire is a fairly limited field is irrefutably taught better by Les Voix humaines.
Whether as viol duo, consort or with various other instruments and singers, Susie Napper, Margaret Little, Mélisande Corriveau and Felix Deak not only busy themselves with the traditional Consort repertoire, but they also arrange other suitable works for their instruments - following good old Baroque practice. And with amazing results!
But also in many other respects, this Canadian viol formation brings a breath of fresh air to the concert stage: be it with their appealing and spontaneous appearance, with their highly energetic, technically excellent, often very free but always well-considered playing or their intelligent programmes, which are not only well-grounded in their conception but always exciting and entertaining. In short: Les Voix humaines tries to convey a thoroughly complex repertoire as attractive and appealing as possible, but without ever compromising on the musical quality. A truly rare mix!
Listen here to a piece of Vivaldi (yes, really!): Four Seasons for four viols ...
Gunar Letzbor records Mozart sonatas
When the young Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart on his way to Paris stayed in Mannheim for longer than planned in 1777/78, he sniffed a lot of musical fresh air: here resided, under the rays of the brilliance of the Elector Carl Theodor, musical trendsetters of the time, such as Stamitz or Cannabich whose new ideas Mozart eagerly absorbed. This can be discerned in his Mannheimer Sonaten, for violin and clavicembalo, in which the young Salzburg composer adapted the new stylistic elements and - inflamed by love for the singer Aloysia Weber - created masterpieces of chamber music that speak of tender affection as well as fiery veneration.
Violinist Gunar Letzbor, leader of the ensemble Ars Antiqua Austria recorded these sonatas on CD together with Erich Traxler at the harpsichord in the last week of January, discovering - after careful reading of Mozart's letters and numerous other sources from that period - many new sides in them. Thus as usual with this musician, this recording should provide for some musical surprises, some aha effects!
The CD will be released this summer on the label Arcana. Here you can enjoy a preview impression of KV 303:
CD recording Le Miroir de Musique
With the introduction of the bow in the West of Europe at the end of the 10th century, the fiddle found its place in our musical world - an instrument which can not be overestimated in its importance as a precursor of the modern violin. But on the way to the 1520s, when finally the violin arose, there were still many intermediate steps, different forms, playing styles and moods in the different countries and regions of Europe.
Baptiste Romain, musician and professor of bowed stringed instruments of the Middle Ages and Renaissance at the Schola Cantorum Basiliensis retraces this route over five centuries on his new CD, which his ensemble Le Miroir de Musique has just recorded. In a rather opulent cast, by the way, with four singers and seven instrumentalists.
The CD titled Seculum Viellatoris will be released this spring on the label Ricercar.
Look forward to listening to it with an anonymous Uitime estampie Real from the beginning of the 14th century, performed with fiddle and percussion - one of the earliest surviving examples of instrumental music:
Gerlinde Sämann: Weihnachtsoratorium
It is simply a great role for her - as is more or less every Baroque repertoire which is virtuosic and high: soprano Gerlinde Sämann sang all the cantatas of Bach's Christmas Oratorio with the Bach Choir Stuttgart on 16 and 17 December under the direction of KMD Jörg-Hannes Hahn.
At the two concerts in the town church of Bad Cannstadt, the six cantatas by Bach were complemented by Antoine Charpentier's famous Te Deum.
New discovery and CD recording Ars Antiqua Austria
Rupert Ignaz Mayr (1646-1712) was a highly versatile and fascinating violinist and composer of the baroque age, probably trained in Passau and Paris and then active in Munich, Freising, Regensburg and Passau, among other places. Over the course of the centuries, his music was forgotten, though. Violinist Gunar Letzbor has now dug up and edited a number of Mayr's works from his Sacri Concentus collection, and has some of them just recorded on CD - as a prelude to a series of several recordings, by the way, that you can already look forward to!
Together with his ensemble Ars Antiqua Austria - which not in vain calls itself «ensemble for new baroque music» - and several vocal soloists, he recorded in the beautiful atmosphere of the St. Florian Abbey in Linz various psalms and hymns, that present Mayr as a tremendously colorful composer: he combines the style of the Munich court around 1700, influenced by Italian musicians, with French refinement and echoes even of Bavarian folk music, and thus shows very own and highly attractive colours in his music.
Listen into a recording session in which Ars Antiqua Austria and Alois Mühlbacher, soloist of the St. Florian Boys' Choir, perform Mayr's Hymnus Venite gentes for soprano, two violins, two violas and continuo.
New at SONUS: Barbora Kabátková
She's not only a fantastic singer but also a very nice person - and so we're enchanted that we'll represent the Czech soprano Barbora Kabátková! Welcome to Sonus!
Barbora is in a way a rather typical musician in the early music scene: she did not only study singing at one or the other conservatorio, but she also concerned herself with musicology, choir conducting and church music during her vocal training. With her own ensemble Tiburtina she's specialised in Medieval music, whilst she's still singing a lot of polyphony in vocal ensembles and does research around Gregorian chant and Medieval music in general.
In her career, which became increasingly international in recent years, she sort of slided in: after singing first concerts with the Baroque repertoire with groups like Collegium 1704 or Collegium Marianum more and more directors and presenters discovered her warm, but perfectly focussed soprano voice. Thus she's getting invitations from well-known groups and musicians all over the world in the meanwhile.
Enjoy her beautiful voice her in a live recording of
Sancez' Stabat Mater (with Collegium 1704, directed by Vaclav Luks):
CD recording La Divina Armonia
Girolamo Frescobaldi's book of motets from 1627 is a compilation of beautiful works for two to five voices - works which nearly were forgotten for centuries. One of the reasons might have been that one of the five part books, of which the collection originally consisted, was lost, and thus no alto-part existed any more. But through meticulous reasearch this lost part book was reconstructed and completed only recently, and so this fascinating collection of sacred works by this great Roman composer and organ player of early Baroque could be performed again.
And who would be more suitable for this than Lorenzo Ghielmi to rescui these motets from oblivion and to record them with his ensemble La Divina Armonia? Additionally there'll be a couple of organ works on this CD, masterly played by Lorenzo Ghielmi himself.
The recording took place on a historical organ by Antegnati, built around 1625 in Peglio (Como) in Italy. Five fine Italian singers worked here for several days under direction of Lorenzo and made these wonderful works sound again.
The CD will be released next year on the Flemish Early Music label Passacaille. We exspect it with joyful anticipation!
Reformation in the Philharmonie Berlin
Remembrance of the Reformation in the Philharmonie Berlin: Gerlinde Sämann, soprano, Alex Potter, countertenor, David Munderloh, tenor, and Dominik Wörner, bass, sang in a concert of Concerto Melante - the only ensemble of the Berlin Philharmonic ochestra which is consequently playing on authentic instruments - the concert featuring 500th anniversary of the Reformation.
das einzige konsequent auf historischen Instrumenten musizierende Ensemble der Berliner Philharmoniker - unter Leitung von Raimar Orlovsky da eine kompetente, klanglich glanzvolle und bestens aufeinander abgestimmte Sängerriege zur Seite gestellt.
Directed by violinist Raimar Orlovsky the four singers on 22 Ocotber performed a programme, which was subtly put together, with works by composers as Walter, Buxtehude, Schein, Tunder, Becker, Telemann and Bach.
Per-Sonat: new CD
A veritable masterstroke is the new CD of ensemble Per-Sonat, directed by Sabine Lutzenberger. The recording, which just was released on the Christophorus label, is entitled Bis an der Welt ihr Ende (till the end of the world) and presents German songs of the time of the Reformation - from touching to martial, from intimate devotion to ardent adoration.
But - as we're used from Per-Sonat - the CD offers not only beautiful music in an eminently poetical and lyrical interpretation, but also learn a lot about the developement of the genre of the German song. That starts with the contemporaries of Luther, as Ludwig Senfl, but then also the influence of Orlando Lasso is a topic as well as the relations between secular and sacred song with composers like Hassler or Lechner, followed by an outlook into early Baroque with Johann Hermann Schein.
So on one hand one hears the thread which runs through this development, on the other hand Per-Sonat shows how the German song developed during a century - parallel to the development of the German society. And that's an amazingly thrilling story!
Listen here to one of the songs on the CD, Johann Hermann Schein's Ach Gott und Herr.
Phantasm at Trigonale in Austria
The programme viol consort Phantasm directed by Laurence Dreyfus played on 6 September in Austrian Sankt Veit contrasted the music of two radical thinkers from the 16th century, the Englishman Christopher Tye (c1505-73) and the Frenchman Claude Le Jeune (c1528-1600).
In the festival Trigonale the musicians of the ensemble demonstrated, how boldly these composers are playing with the metrical and harmonic traditions of their respective country; and it required indeed a group like Phantasm to present these pieces because this rhytmical and melodical peculiarities can only be fully enjoyed when performed as vibrantly and brilliantly, perfectly in tune and cristal clear as these viol players are able to do!
Le Miroir de Musique in Utrecht
Not many people today are aware of the lay brotherhood of the Brethren of the Common Live - but this group, which developed in the course of the 14th century in the Netherlands and devoted itself to a pure, chaste and simple life, reading and meditation, was a harbinger of the Reformation. Marin Luther himself attended a school of this brotherhood in Magdeburg and was deeply influenced by their thinking with regard to his later ideas.
Of course this brotherhood also developed their own liturgical musci for their services. And for this very particular repertoire Baptiste Romain did research in old manuscripts and presented the results with his ensemble Le Miroir de Musique in a concert on 1 September in the Festival Oude Muziek Utrecht with a rather big cast of four singers and four instruments.
An impressing - and today totally unknown - repertoire, a gorgeous concert!
Phantasm: Gramophone Award!
It surely was a great success already, when the CD of John Dowland's Lachrimae, which viol consort Phantasm under direction of Laurence Dreyfus had released in the autumn of 2016 ranked high in the British and international Classic Charts for several months and was nearly overwhelmed with praising reviews - and a sort of forebode of what we just came to know: the recording won the Gramophone Award 2017 for Early Music.
Laurence Dreyfus and his collegues accepted the award on 13 September in a ceremony in London with highest pleasure.
And by the way: according to first rumors the Dowland recording will receive another of the internationally important prizes - we'll hold you updated...
Listen here to the Lachrimae Antiquae on the decorated CD:
Ordo Virtutum in Utrecht
With their programme Fragmentum ensemble Ordo Virtutum, directed by Stefan Morent, was searching for forgotten melodies from the Middle Ages on 30 August in the Festival Oude Muziek Utrecht - or even for a forgotten world. The background: after the Reformation was finally introduced in Württemberg in 1537 many old music manuscripts suddenly seemed to be superfluous, as they were useless for the reformed liturgy.
Thus they were took apart and the precious parchment was reused for instance as cover for a new manuscript, or to stabilise a book spine.
But thanks to the exploratory urge of Stefan Morent, who rummaged in South German archives for months, some of these forgotten and destroyed pieces could sound again now; at least - as the title of the programme suggests - in fragments.
Listen here to an antiphon from the Holy Blood Office Weingarten:
In their second cooperation the nine musicians presented in the Geertekerk Utrecht penitential psalms by those composers with four singers, a cornetto and four trombones; a cast which mirrored the severity and gravity of this fascinating music in the most ecxcellent way - and with this also reflected the seriousness, which the composers at the time of the Reformation dedicated to this topics.
Between conflict and reconciliation was the title of the programme which he performed in his wonderfully cantabile way of playing a keyboard instrument on 29 August. The programme contained music by various organ player-composers, who either were in service of a pope or a secular ruler in the times of Reformation - either wrote music for the Counter-Reformation. With this he presented a piece by Arvo Pärt as well as a Da nobis pacem from his own production.
Listen here to Lorenzo in a movement from Handel's organ concerto in B, op. IV, Nr. 2:
Vigils with laReverdie in Utrecht
Vigilia alla laude di Sancta Maria was the headline of a concert with laReverdie on 26 August in the framework of the Festival Oude Muziek Utrecht. And this vigils could have become a rather monochrome affair, as the music from the Cortona- and Firenze-manuscript from mid-thirteenth century is unisonous and in most parts written deliberately simple, because it was created by the mendicant orders as an antipole against the splendour of the Roman Catholic church in the Middle Ages.
But with laReverdie there was absolutley no risk in this regard: the six musicians with their voices and various instruments let their audience feel the delight of a laude for St. Agnes as intensely as the meditative atmosphere of the adoration of the Holy Spirit or the spiritedness in a laude for St. Francisco. With rhythmical elements and improvisations they created an impressively stirring experience, without ever touching the wrong side of the border between serious and populist music making.
The concert was recorded by the Concertzender and will be broadcast on this station soon.
La Divina Armonia: Ensemble in Residence in Utrecht
It's of course per se a veritable honour to be invited to the Festival Oude Muziek Utrecht - the biggest Early Music festival worldwide, which additionally was elected best festival of Europe by the European Festival Association. But for Lorenzo Ghielmi this honour was even augmented, as he and his ensemble La Divina Armonia were also chosen Artist in Residence for the 2017 edition of the festival.
So it fell to Lorenzo and his musicians in the openining concert of the festival on 25 August in the great hall of TivoliVredenburg, to inaugurate the new Baroque organ, which recently was build in this venue; the only Baroque organ ever built in a concert hall of this size, by the way. They fulfilled this mission in the most splendorous manner with several soloistic organ works, a Bach cantata (BWV 35), in which the organ is used as solo instrument and one cantata (BWV 79) in which it is playing continuo.
The concert was broadcasted live by the Dutch station Avotros Klassiek.
Here you can see it in full length in a video on our YouTube Channel.!
In a second concert on 27 August Lorenzo Ghielmi and his musicians devoted themself to cantatas of the North-German organ school. In their concert entitled Organistenmusiken they presented works by Tunder, Buxtehude, Pachelbel, Reincken and Lübeck. These pieces - rather chamber-music, but unbelievably appealing to hear - were performed in the Hertz hall of Vredenburg.
The concert was recorded by the Concertzender and will be broadcast on this station before long.
Watch here as an appetizer one piece from the concert on our YouTube Channel: Dieterich Buxtehude's cantata Salve desiderium.
LaReverdie at Festspiele Mecklenburg-Vorpommern
Claudia and Livia Caffagni and Elisabetta de Mircovich from laReverdie had an intense weekend in the North of Germany: they appeared during the medieval weekend at the Mecklenburg-Vorpommern festival, where they played and sung two wonderful programmes in an an extremely charming setting. Furthermore their concerts were moderated by medieval expert Bernhard Morbach with instructive texts.
So on 19 August they presented music by Hildegard von Bingen in the gorgeous Güstrow castle; on 20 August they played and sung secular music from the Middeleages from Italy, France and Germany at two stops of a musical walk in and around the Zarrentin monastery.
Here you can watch parts from both programmes in a video, produced by Bernhard Morbach, on our YouTube Channel (in case you're in a hurry: the sections with laReverdie start at 8:36 and 24:10).
Virtuosic music for cornetto and bass in Vantaa BRQ
It was a completely new group of musicians around cornetto player Bruce Dickey and bass Wolf Matthias Friedrich, which came together on 6 August in the Vantaa BRQ festival near Helsinki. With Stefano Rossi, violin, Adrian Rovatkay, bassoon and dulcian, and Marcin Szelest, organ, three outstanding musicians had joined Wolf and Bruce, and all of them were enthusing the audience by their perfect ensemble playing as well as by their excellent soloistic mastery.
Together, the five musicians presented a programme of music from the 17th century, which focused on the virtuoso soloistic bass voice, often paired with an equally virtuosic instrument in the treble register - the cornetto. So they put works by German composers such as Pachelbel or Rosenmüller on the programme, but also such by Italian colleagues as Peranda, Rigatti, Merula or Valentini, and once again proved that the preferences of musicians and audiences in the 17th century were not restricted by national borders.
A fascinating program, a great collaboration - and certainly not the last get-together of this newly founded ensemble!
And in case you didn't listen to a really virtuosic cornetto player for a long time, then you have the opportunity to do so in a Per dolor (after Tromboncino) here: