Han Tol (NL) and Nigel North (GB/US)
Una Suave Melodia: Speech, nature and poetry in the music of the Renaissance and Baroque era.
Ticket price: 10 - 25 EUR
Festibus: Ljubljana (Hala Tivoli) - Slovenska Bistrica at 17:15. Price: 10 EUR. | Zagreb - Slovenska Bistrica at 17:00. Price: 10 EUR
Han Tol (NL): recorder
Nigel North (GB/US): lute
Una Suave Melodia: Speech, nature and poetry in the music of the Renaissance and Baroque era.
Artists’ message to visitors
Tonight’s program, “Una Suave Melodia”, focusses on the fragile beauty and sweetness of sound that is so typical for the Renaissance and Baroque period. In modern times our ears are battered daily by the constant noise and rumble around us. Digital sound is even often aggressively amplified through head phones or loudspeakers. In the Renaissance, the period roughly between 1400 and 1600, musicians strove to imitate nature in all its refined exquisiteness and color. This implied both listening in awe to birds (particularly to the nightingale), and trying to analyse and copy their song. But, and most especially, they sought to understand and savour the almost unlimited variety of expression of the human voice: from high to low, fast to slow, loud to soft, trilling, sustaining, from cheering to weeping, shouting to whispering. Instrumentalists were considered to be virtuosi, if they were able to carry the audience into a magical auditory world that represented nature in all its adroit magnificence. Pure silence was considered an indispensable and vital part of this boundless form of communication! The title “Una Suave Melodia” hints not only at the beautiful composition by Falconiero, but also at a kind of music making, full of poetry and intricate expression; something we feel is threatened nowadays, but should never be forgotten…
Han Tol is active as a soloist, ensemble player, musical director and teacher throughout Europe, the U.S. and the Far East. He holds a professorship at the "Hochschule für Künste" in Bremen, Germany, and at the “Schola Cantorum Basiliensis” in Basle, Switzerland. His teaching activities include further courses at renowned music institutions in Vienna, Salzburg, Geneva, St. Petersburg, Jerusalem, Baltimore, Tokyo, Seoul and Hong Kong, to name a few. Mr. Tol was a member of the outstanding “Flanders Recorder Quartet”. In his orchestral work with the "Balthasar Neumann Ensemble" of Freiburg, Germany, his interpretation of 17th century Italian music while clad in full clown apparel was probably the most memorable. Han Tol was their guest artistic director for the production of the highly praised CD, “Perpetuum Mobile”, with recently discovered repertory by Telemann. The German music magazine “Tibia” recently published two articles by Han Tol, the result of his extensive research on the life and works of the mysterious sixteenth-century Venetian musician, printer and painter, Sylvestro Ganassi. The artist can be heard on 40 CD recordings for such labels as Teldec, Harmonia Mundi, EMI, and CPO.
Born in London, England, Nigel North has been Professor of Lute at the Early Music Institute, Indiana University, Bloomington (USA) since 1999. Previous positions included The Guildhall School of Music and Drama, London (1976-1996), Hochschule der Künste, Berlin (1993-1999) and the Royal Conservatory, Den Haag, (2006-2009). Initially inspired at the age of seven by the early 60's instrumental pop group "The Shadows", Nigel studied classical music through the violin and guitar, eventually discovering his real path in life, the lute, when he was 15. Basically self-taught on the lute, he has been playing and teaching for nearly 50 years. After hearing one of Nigel’s Bach recitals in London, Julian Bream recalled in 2002 “I remember going to a remarkable recital, one which I wish I had the ability to give: it was one of Nigel North’s Bach recitals, and I was bowled over by how masterful and how musical it was. A real musical experience, something you don’t always get from guitar and lute players and which, in general, is pretty rare.” Recordings include a four CD boxed set “Bach on the Lute” (Linn Records), four CDs of the lute music of John Dowland (Naxos), and a new ongoing series of music by Sylvius Weiss (BGS) and Francesco da Milano (BGS).
In 1511, Sebastian Virdung published a book about music and the important instruments in use at the time (Musica getutscht). Significantly, the recorder (Blockflöte, flauto dolce) and the lute (Laute, liuto) are represented as two of only three main instruments. The contrasting sounds of our instrumentarium – a sweet melodic and expressive “organ pipe”, and the plucked sound of double strings over a hollow gourd-shaped wooden body – share one thing in common; with them we have both the desire and ability to make the music sing.
Our programme, while it covers at least 200 years of music, will not be presented to you chronologically, but more as a tapestry of all the different genres of compositions with which we may share and enjoy these two magnificent instruments with you. Vocal music, in one form or another, will feature heavily. In the sixteenth century, the primary musical genre was vocal, and most instrumental players and composers imitated this princely example. We will hear three of the hit tunes of the time; de Rore’s Ancor che col partire, Sandrin’s Doulce memoire and Josquin’s Mille regretz.
Their titles already indicate that the song texts were secular, mostly focussing on love, dear memories, or the beauty of nature. This was a new aspect of music making around 1500, as the repertoire had been mainly based on sacred texts until then. The use of solo instruments was also revolutionary. Traditionally they had been in use to double and support the vocal parts. As they developed more and more and were capable to express a poetic beauty in their own right, instruction books about how to play them became available to a growing number of well-to-do music lovers. Music printing had been invented by the Venetian Ottaviano Petrucci (1466-1539) and his editions were exported all over Europe. One of the most virtuosic players and instructors of the time, Sylvestro Ganassi, published two treatises in which both the recorder (in the “Fontegara”, 1535) and the lute (“Regola Rubertina”, 1541) were prominently displayed and discussed. Extreme virtuosity was part of the art of the recorder, as is stated by Ganassi, and this was often expressed in so called diminutions (divisions or passaggi), in which the long and melodic lines of the upper part of a polyphonic composition were embellished, “broken” into rapid notes in passages of utmost virtuosity. This aspect of the recorder’s nature will not only be heard in the tunes, mentioned above, but also in purely instrumental sets of divisions (by van Eyck, Finger etc) and the borrowings from the violin repertoire by Uccellini and Corradini. The blind Dutch recorder player, Jacob van Eyck, produced the largest ever set of variations for a solo wind instrument in 1644. He was appointed by the city of Utrecht to play on his recorder in the municipal park after dinner, during the summer months . His improvisations, based on famous contemporary melodies, were written down and printed by a friend with the fitting title: “The Flute’s Pleasure Garden”.
The Renaissance period, roughly between 1400 and 1600, is often referred to in music history as the age of polyphony. The compositions consisted of several, independent parts, sung by voices alone or with accompaniment of instruments. Each composition was based on strict laws of harmony and counterpoint, making sure that the different linear parts produced corresponding, simultaneous sounds while maintaining an imitative relationship between them. The harmonic beauty of this repertoire was overshadowed by a chaotic text placing, since each voice would come in at a different time with the same text, in imitation. As music became more secular in the beginning of the sixteenth century, leading to the invention of a new genre, the madrigal, the clear expression of newly created, intelligible texts became much more paramount. During the Renaissance the lute was developed as a contrapuntal instrument, able to represent 3, 4 or 5 voices simultaneously –these contrapuntal skills will be heard in all of the intabulated* music from that period. The urge to make texts more comprehensible lead to a new era around 1600, the Baroque era, during which the lute became one of the principal basso continuo instruments, perfectly able to enhance the affect and content of the text of a single voice through harmonic chordal accompaniment. In this role the recorder has found an able and suave partner in the works of Marcello, Schickhardt, Corradini and Uccelini, in Arias, Grounds and Dances, including the two Chaconnes which bring our evening to a close. While only one piece has the title, Una Suave Melodia, we hope you will find the title amply applicable and true of each and every piece of music in our programme.
*Intabulation was a common compositional practice in 14th–16th century keyboard and lute music. A direct effect of intabulation was one of the early advantages of keyboards, the ability to render multiple instruments' music on one instrument.
Slovenska Bistrica, Slovenska Bistrica Castle
The Slovenska Bistrica Castle is the central town building and an example of large lowland castle formations in Slovenia. The earliest documented use is dated 1313.
The price of coach provided for all concerts from Ljubljana and Zagreb is 10€. Departure from Hala Tivoli and Lisinski Hall.