COPENHAGEN VOCAL ENSEMBLE
MUSICA FICTA ARTISTIC DIRECTOR
THE ROOTS OF WESTERN MUSIC
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Photos by Per Morten Abrahamsen
MUSIC CLEANSING IN CALVINIST EUROPE
The century of the madrigal (1520-1620) started off with very simple bawdy and homophonic songs, but developed into the most intricate polyphonic and refined chamber music there ever was. After 1580 an explosion of music for professional chamber music vocalists occurred, epitomized in the genreâ€™s two most extreme composers: Luca Marenzio and Carlo Gesualdo. Marenzio came to be the greatest and most popular composition virtuoso in all styles, a veritable Richard Strauss of the madrigal: no emotion, no splendor and no lament were beyond his capabilities of expression, and all by using merely six solo singers! Gesualdo, on the other hand, became the Gustav Mahler of the late Renaissance: He managed to express all the horrors of life, the deepest depressions and the wildest erotic bliss and delirious joy with just five virtuosic solo singers. The contrast between these mighty madrigalists could not have been greater, but they match each other as two pinnacles of the age, showing how different madrigals can actually be.
Sweelinck is known around the world for his splendid organ music. But his extensive vocal music reaches an even higher level. As a resident of Amsterdam, Sweelinck was subject to Calvinist austerity during the service and any music, apart from tiny bits of plainsong, were simply forbidden. However, the music before and after the service, and not least in private homes, took on extra flamboyance as compensation, and here Sweelinck shows us his most flashy sides of his vocal music. The level of singing in Amsterdam must have been high at the time, for the music is virtuosic, full of imagination and pictorialism, even in the 8-part Psalm-settings. But there are also madrigals, and splendid duets and trios in a completely novel style.
- GESUALDO AND MARENZIO
8 singers and Bo Holten
- VOCAL MUSIC BY J. P. SWEELINCK
8 singers, harpsichordist Allan Rasmussen and Bo Holten
BBC MUSIC MAGAZINE LUCA MARENZIO (1553-1599)
ORLANDUS LASSUS (1532-1594)
GIACHES DE WERT (1535-1596)
MASTERS OF MANTUA - MONTEVERDI AND DE WERT
ST. MATTHEW PASSION BY LASSUS - THE MOST IMPRESSIVE PASSION BEFORE BACH
Giaches de Wert was the last of the great French/Flemish composers who for 150 years established and dominated musical life in Italy. With a very strong and individual personality, he had a great influence on the development of the madrigal. His compositions are sometimes startlingly original and almost provocative. When Claudio Monteverdi came to the court in Mantua as a young musician, de Wert undoubtedly made a strong and lasting impression as the teacher and mentor of the young man and sowed the seeds of a healthy experimentalism that would result in profound changes in the general musical development in the time after 1600, when Monteverdi became the famous opera composer and Master of Music in San Marco. The programme features colourful madrigals by these two great radicals, and tells the story of the madrigal from a Mantuan point of view.
Lassus, arguably the greatest and in any case the most versatile composer of the late Renaissance, composed all the four passion stories told by the Evangelists. Alas, we do not know which plainsong was known and which motets might have been inserted in the austere passion rites in Munich around 1575. I have â€?reconstructedâ€? the most likely version in this 90 minute Matthew-passion, full of drama and atmosphere. Arguably the greatest polyphonic passion before Bach, it features a baritone Evangelist and a bass Jesus and all the surrounding persons sung as ensembles, with large motets commenting on the events. A very rewarding and intensely felt rendition of the passion story. 8 singers and Bo Holten
8 singers and Bo Holten
J. P. SWEELINCK (1562-1621)
BBC MUSIC MAGAZINE
CARLO GESUALDO (1566-1613) CLAUDIO MONTEVERDI (1567-1643)
THE NORTHERN MADRIGAL - MADE IN VENICE
The madrigal genre flourished in Italy 15201620. Around 11.000 Italian texted madrigals were composed. But the composers were not always Italians. In a few cases, kings and nobility from Northern Europe sent young musical talents to Italy to study. Thus, Johann Grabbe and Heinrich Schütz were sent from Germany, and Hans Nielsen and Mogens Pedersøn were sent from Denmark– all of them to the most celebrated teacher of the day: Giovanni Gabrieli, Maestro of Music in San Marco, Venice. This programme tells in great detail about these several years long visits and the wonderful musical results that came out of these intense studies. With the return of the pupils to their homelands, the proliferation of the Italian style had profound repercussions in Northern Europe, and the Italian Style became truly international. The Dutchman Jan Pieterszoon Sweelinck, for example, never visited Italy, but managed to emulate the current style elegantly. 8 singers, lutenist Fredrik Bock and Bo Holten
OU Y E E S O T HOPE SOON
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HEINRICH SCHÜTZ (1585-1672) MOGENS PEDERSØN (1585-1623)
VOCAL ENSEMBLE MUSICA FICTA - ALWAYS MORE THAN A CONCERT!
Musica Ficta, based in Copenhagen, is a professional vocal ensemble, founded in 1996 by composer and conductor Bo Holten. With this group he has realised his vision of a highly flexible ensemble, where the classical Oxbridge early music ideal is combined with the warmth of the Scandinavian choral sound. The ensemble works exclusively on thematic projects, based on the idea that the musical experience is enhanced by letting historical, literary or philosophical perspectives play an active role in programming, as well as in the spoken introductions during the concerts. This starting point has resulted in a series of musical events where location, texts, illustrations and narration combine to give the audience a deeper understanding and experience of an epoch, a composer or a musical genre.
During the last five years the ensemble and Bo Holten have dedicated themselves to Italian madrigals from the late renaissance, with emphasis on the extreme Italian composer Carlo Gesualdo (1566-1613). Intense studies at home and research trips in Italy have given the ensemble an unusual freedom, not only to embellish the music according to tradition, but also to improvise extensively, all of which have become staple ingredients in our programmes.
CONTACT Manager, Christian Tobiassen email@example.com tel: +45 30913567 Artistic director and conductor, Bo Holten firstname.lastname@example.org tel: +45 53270854
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