Sad Steps - Virelai (RVRCD62)


In 1998, the members of Virelai conceived the idea of commissioning a series of new settings of renaissance love poems. Andrew Keeling and Elizabeth Liddle were the first composers we approached, and some of the pieces recorded here were first performed in August of 2000, in Radovljica, Slovenia. Over time, the project became in effect a collaborative song cycle. I call it a "cycle" because all of the composers (though they didn't actually work together) were given the same brief: to write a short piece for voice, renaissance flute, viol and lute, setting a renaissance love poem (or to write an instrumental piece to puncutate the songs). It is therefore tied together by related themes and scorings. More amazingly, the various songs and instrumental pieces complement each other in previously unimagined ways. A great diversity of musical and poetic styles appears here, and yet there is a sense of complementarity. The cycle also has an open-endedness. We hope that this CD is a beginning, not an ending, to the process of gathering material.

Renaissance words, renaissance instruments, contemporary settings: this project ties together the worlds of early and contemporary music, and raises many interesting questions about composition, performance, text setting, the use of early instruments for new music and the relationship of old to new generally.

We are deeply indebted to all of the composers who contributed to this project. From us to them, profound thanks.

Jacob Heringman, 2002

Lute Requirements and Idiosyncrasies - Jacob Heringman

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