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Potpourri: Hair Shirts & Blisters on Fingers

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Welcome to Harmonia Uncut , the podcast that brings you live performances of very old music. I’m your host, Wendy Gillespie and today I’ve got a potpourri to share with you, a bit of medieval vocal music and a bit of baroque instrumental music.

First, a song by Gace Brulé, the best-known – ok, it’s a small pond – and most prolific of the trouveres. Aaron Cain was kind enough to send us this live recording that he made with vielle player Joanna Blendulf, and what a wonder example it is of the continuum of modern performance practice.

Gace’s poem, somewhat unsurprisingly, sings the praises of a beautiful and gracious lady – for five verses. My favorite is the third, where the poet tells his lady that he would think himself fortunate if she would request him to wear a hair shirt. At the end of each verse are the words, “Whoever lives a life of love is right, since honor and worth thereby come to him. Listen for seven syllables in each line. Even if you can’t understand the words, you begin to appreciate the art of the trouvere by enjoying the rhythm and rhyme of the poetry and the refrain at the end of each verse.

Music 1

Aaron Cain and Joanna Blendulf – what a great team they make – performed a trouvere song by Gace Brulé in October 2010 in Bell Concert Hall in Eugene OR.

And now we go to Germany for, as it is said, something completely different. The viola da gamba player Joshua Keller sent us this recording of a recital that he gave in 2013 at the Simon Petrus Kirche in Bremen, Germany with Hugo de Rodas Sanchez, arch-lute, and Nadine Remert, harpsichord. This is a sonata by one David Baudringer, about whom Grove Music, the place to start looking for anything musical, is curiously silent, but who apparently worked with Buxtehude in Lubeck. As you will hear, Baudringer composes in the stylus fantasticus, an early baroque style associated with Frescobaldi, Schmelzer, Buxtehude and Biber. It was described in 1650 by the polymath Athanisus Kircher:

“The fantastic style is especially suited to instruments. It is the most free and unrestrained method of composing.  It is bound to nothing, neither any words nor a melodic subject. It was instituted to display genius and to teach the hidden design of harmony and the ingenious combination of harmonic phrases and fugues.

Baudringer’s Sonata comprises just one crazy movement that certainly requires technical prowess of the performer. It may not have words, but it does tell a story, certainly dramatic and positively, dare one suggest, even operatic, in an instrumental kind of way. Come to think of it, your host dares to humbly disagree with our polymath, for how can one miss the words spoken by the viola da gamba in this piece?

Music 2

From a concert in December 2013 in Bremen Germany by Joshua Keller, viola da gamba, who was kind enough to share this recording with us. Josh is joined by Hugo de Rodas Sanchez, arch-lute, and Nadine Remert, harpsichord, and we heard a sonata by David Baudringer.

We’d be interested to hear what you think about anything you’ve heard on this podcast. Leave a comment or question any time by visiting HarmoniaEarlyMusic dot org and clicking on “contact.” This has been the HU podcast, and I’m Wendy Gillespie, thanks for listening!
Medieval image of Bernart de Ventadour

On today’s podcast, you’ll get to hear a potpourri of medieval vocal music and baroque instrumental music. We’ll play recordings of a live performance from 2010 of a trouvère song by Gace Brulé with voice and vielle by Aaron Cain and Joanna Blendulf, followed by an excerpt from a concert given by viola da gamba player Joshua Keller in Bremen Germany in 2013. Ever heard of David Baudinger? You won’t forget the name after you hear this!

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