This programme comprises music by Italian and French composers, including Marchetto Cara, Bartolomeo Tromboncino, Philippe Verdelot, Adrian Willaert, Francesco da Milano, Joanambrosio Dalza, Nicolas Vallet, Antonie Boesset, Gabriel Bataille and Étienne Moulinié.
The program centres on the Renaissance voice genres (16th century) Frottola and Madrigal and the Baroque (17th century) Air de cour. Love is the main topic, sometimes expressed in a melancholic and courteous way and at other times in an ironic and popular tone. Voice pieces are combined with vivacious and colourful instrumental dances and ricercadas for two lutes. These dances, which were originally composed as solos, have the influence of popular tradition and been brilliantly arranged for two instruments (lutes, theorbes and Baroque guitar) by duo M&M.
ABOUT THE MUSIC:
The genre of Frottola blossomed in Italy around the turn of the 16th century. Composed normally for 4 voices, Frottola, whose main theme is love, was derived from the secular tradition of literary homonym. The structure of Frottola is rather homorythmic - the voices move together - consisting of an alternation of verses and a refrain. This “popular” character led to its use also in the form of a simple melody sung by a low voice, accompanied by a lute. Among the composers of Frottola from this time were Marchetto Cara and Bartolomeo Tromboncino, both of whom wrote in Mantova, the epicentre of this genre.
“Verdelotto” - Philippe Verdelot, a Frenchman, exiled in Italy at the beginning of the 16th Century - was a prolific composer of Madrigals, the principal characteristics of which are meticulous fidelity to the text and rich contrapuntal writing. In contrast to Frottola, madrigals present a much more complex structure with freely inspired metre and narrative content. The Madrigal also survived in the form of a lute song. Airs de cour” were a genre performed in France during the 16th and 17th Centuries, mainly by a solo voice accompanied by lute or guitar - an instrument that enjoyed the great interest and favour of the sovereign himself.
Nicolas Vallet was greatly appreciated in France and the rest of Europe both as a lutenist and master of dance. He left a collection rich in music and dances called “Secretum Musarum”, which also contains music for four lutes.
The lute occupied a place of choice in the renaissance cultures of Italy and Europe and we have preserved a vast legacy of solo and chamber music repertoire. One of the favourite genres is the lute duet, of which there remain many beautiful compositions. The reputation of Francesco Canova da Milano, known as “the Divine”, is still alive several centuries after his death. He was active in Italy and probably in Paris and left a substantial solo repertoire and two duets of rare beauty. From Joanambrosio Dalza, we have nothing except for a collection of compositions (1508), containing “Recercari” in an improvisational style and some very virtuose dance music.
Spanish guitar music often reaches us as only simple melodies notated in tablature or chord sequences. From such scarce resources, musicians had freedom of interpretation, as we do now, to recreate these pieces and arrange variations on popular airs. Among the possibilities, it is interesting to play this music with two instruments.
(Mirko Arnone, transl. by Mike Diprose)
The major areas explored by Dominique Vellard in his musical carreer are rooted in his childhood experiences as a choirboy at Notre-Dame de Versailles. The choirmaster, Pierre Béguigné, who was trained in the Niedermeyer school, nurtured in him a passionate love of Gregorian chant, Renaissance polyphony, the French composers of the seventeenth century and Bach organ music and chorales. Soon after completing his studies at the Versailles conservatory, Dominique Vellard encountered the new approach to the various Baroque repertoires currently being led by the “harpsichordist-conductors” of the seventies. Stimulated by their challenges to received ideas about performance practice, he concentrated his work on Monteverdi for three years before deciding to devote most of his time to the medieval and Renaissance repertoires , fields in which he felt he was entirely free to express his musical aesthetics.
Today, enriched by his experience of those earlier periods, he is returning to the vocal repertoires of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, for which he has an enduring affection, and is offering interpretations that are more lyrical and contrapuntal than those many audiences are used to. Alongside his “medieval carrer”, Dominique Vellard has kept up his involvement in other repertoires, exploring the fruitful possibilities of encounters between the earliest works in his repertoire and traditions as varied as North Indian Classic repertories (with Ken Zuckerman), Southern Indian Carnatic singing (with Aruna Saïram), Breton Guerz (with Yann-Fañch Kemener), and Spanish traditions (with Ana-Isabel Arnaz de Hoyos -Ensemble „Vox suavis“), while remaining active in recitals with the organist and composer Jean-Pierre Leguay, whose Secundum Matthæum (According to Matthew, 1999), Pater noster and Alleluia (2001) are dedicated to him. In 2005 he was involved in a creation by Gilbert Amy. Dominique Vellard has made about forty recordings, whether as soloist, conductor, or at the head of the Ensemble Gilles Binchois, which he has directed since 1979.
He has taught at the Schola Cantorum in Basel since 1982. He has also been the Artistic director of the festival Les Rencontres Internationales de Musique Médiévale du Thoronet since it was first held in 1991, and from 2003, of Les Meslanges de Printemps (Dijon).
Duo M&M was formed in 2003 by lutenists Mirko Arnone and Maria Ferré whilst they were studying with prof. Rolf Lislevand at the Staatliche Hochschule für Musik in Trossingen, Germany.
Since then, concentrating on the interpretation of Renaissance and Baroque music for lute, theorbo and Baroque guitar, Duo M&M has become established through a great deal of concert experience.
Duo M&M performs alone or as continuo in ensembles and has played with Dominique Vellard, L’Art du Bois, UCS, Luna in many European countries (Germany, France, Switzerland, Norway, Spain, Holland, Belgium and Italy),the USA and Mexico. Appearing with L’Art du Bois, Duo M&M won the Van Wassenaer Competition (Den Haag) in 2006, when they were also distinguished with a special prize for their continuo playing. In 2007, Duo M&M performed with L’Art du Bois in the International Haendel Festival in Goettingen. During the same year, they also appeared in the re-named early music festival “Via Stellae” in Santiago de Compostella and in Barcelona at the Festival de Musica Antiga. Duo M&M have worked successfully together with singer Dominique Vellard since meeting at the Schola Cantorum Basiliensis in 2005. Their many appearances together have been celebrated by overwhelming applause.