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Harmonia Early Music

Neidhart: Music From The Frankfurt Fragment

Ensemble Leones performs the music of Neidhart, a famous Minnesinger.

Neidhart portrayed in the Codex Manesse

Despite several damaged pages, the Frankfurt Fragment, a manuscript dating from around the year 1300, preserves several texts and melodies of the poet-musician, Neidhart, a famous German Minnesinger. Ensemble Leones has recorded music from the manuscript on their 2012 release for the Naxos label, called Neidhart: A Minnesinger and his Vale of Tears.

One track, “Ich claghe de blomen,” features a melody of almost two octaves and gives modern listeners a glimpse into the vocal requirements of professional singers of the time.  Other pieces include instruments such as the vielle and the gittern. These added parts aren’t actually in the manuscript, but rather improvised by members of Ensemble Leones.

In order to get the full effect of this recording it is important to read the texts. Neidhart seems to have enjoyed satirizing the classic Minnesang topics of duty, love, and loyalty, and his lyric poetry is full of irony and parody.  Texts can be found here.

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Janelle Davis

Janelle Davis is a violinist and performer with period instrument ensembles throughout the United States. She is currently a candidate for the Doctor of Music degree from Indiana University, Bloomington where she specializes in early music.

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