Love songs from the Renaissance

Qui Regna Amore © Maxim Reider

Qui Regna Amore © Maxim Reider

The international early music ensemble Qui Regna Amore (Here Love Rules) will treat the country to four concerts of Italian Renaissance music on authentic instruments rarely heard here, such as the dulcian (predecessor of the bassoon) and the sacbut (Renaissance trombone). The 12-member ensemble, which includes Europe-based Israelis as well as local musicians, was founded in 2005 at Basel’s Scola Cantorum, a major early music center.

The concert program is based mainly on the repertoire of Accademia Filarmonica di Verona, a musicians’ guild which was founded in mid-16th century and has survived all the way to the present in the form of the Verona Philharmonic Orchestra.

“Accademia was one of the leading ensembles of that time, with the best composers – such as Orlando di Lasso, Cipriano de Rore and Monteverdi – writing for them,” explains harpsichordist Yizhar Karshon, who initiated the project and has been working on it for an entire year. Karshon (33), part of a younger generation of Israeli early music performers who returned home after studies abroad, is a member of probably the best local early music ensemble, Barrocade, which took the Israeli scene from its debut.

“While preparing the concert program, we went to the inventories of that epoch, with the detailed descriptions of the music, instruments and people who played them. At the time, polyphonic music reached its peak, with pieces for eight, 10 and even 40 voices being written. Both performing it – that is, improvising on the writen musical text – and listening to it is an immense pleasure. It simply enters your soul and fills it. It was impossible to present this music through local forces only, so we brought in our colleagues.”

While the program’s pieces will be mostly vocal compositions, only two vocalists will be participating in these concerts. Karshon explains that in the Renaissance tradition, vocal parts were not necessarily performed by singers: often they were performed by orchestra instrumentalists.

“This will be a real Renaissance orchestra, with two vocalists, soprano and counter tenor, who recite the text, while the many instruments bring rich color to the music.”

The program opening of motets for eight voices by Lasso and Willaert is followed by madrigals. “This special genre showcases the best abilities of the composers of the time. Madrigals were written to 14th-century texts by Francisco Petrarca about the life and death of his beloved Laura. This was a popular form in which many composers wrote.”

Villanescas are also on the program. “These are also vocal pieces that speak about love and jealousy but in a much lighter way; they are kind of the pop songs of the time. Originally, they were popular Neapolitan songs, with a lot of rhythm, featuring simple, funny and at times quite rude texts.”

Maxim Reider , THE JERUSALEM POST Jan. 24, 2008

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