The CD TIME CRAWLS is out on the label HOMERECORDS.BE and also available on our webshop (> CD).
Zefiro Torna takes us into a timeless universe with a reinterpretation of the 17th century broken consort music. Melodies intuitively created by flute player Jowan Merckx received a new arrangement for flute, violin, viola da gamba, violone, harp and lute by composers Marnix De Cat and Martin Valcke. The new written music bears traces of baroque and traditional music from all over Europe. The music, which is sometime melancholic, sometimes nimble and festive, fascinates by its ingeniously crafted texture and invites to dance.
This autumn, the alchemistic laboratory BALSAM with Laika, Theatre of the Senses will be on tour again. After two series of performances at the Boulevard Festival in Den Bosch and Cultura Nova in Heerlen in August, the team is ready for it! Prepare yourself for a bewitching ritual in which music, scents and flavours immerse you in the shimmering world of alchemy. Besides the Greenwich+Docks International Festival in London and a tour to Portugal and France, BALSAM also passes by a number of Belgian venues.
--> Take a look in the agenda for all dates
As an introduction to the performance PAST >I ORALE Zefiro Torna asked film maker Mathias Ruelle to create a short documentary. Through the eyes of five characters, this film highlights a few elementary parts from which the performance originated. The music of PAST >I ORALE - a wonderful mix of Beethoven, sound art and alternative pop - resonates as a soundtrack.
> Watch the documentary here (from June 15th until July 13th)
'A summer evening in Catalonia, 1399. A group of pilgrims are sitting next to the wall of the abbey church of Montserrat. They have come in search of forgiveness, purification, a fresh start.' Zefiro Torna and Psallentes re-opened this famous "Llibre Vermell de Montserrat". You can find our intimate version of the pilgrim songs on our newest CD, out now on the label Le Bricoleur. Get your copy here, it's the ideal soundtrack for a relaxing summer evening.
Tune in to Podium 19, a new tv-channel for culture, on Sunday 21 March at 6pm for BALSAM, and let yourself be carried away by the enchanting music and images of the alchemistic concert by Zefiro Torna and Laika. Afterwards you can watch the show for another month on VRTnu.
Of course we look forward to welcome you live again into this magic laboratory. We are planning a long tour in Belgium and abroad, which we hope to start in June.
A ‘good song’ and dancing music were never far away in the early 17th century England of Elisabeth I and the Stuarts. Traditional grounds, allemandes, pavanes and galliards, country dances, jigs and catches could be heard right next to a folk song, a melancholy lute song, an Italian madrigal or three-voiced ‘canzonettes’. It was a time when music was threaded with references to exuberant court plays or masques and to the tragedies or comedies of the Shakespearian theatre. Which seems plausible considering the number of composers that were affiliated to the renowned theatre company of The King’s Men.
Master John ‘semper dolans’ Dowland and his contemporary Robert Johnson salute the beginning of a new century with their exquisite songs and superb lute music. When thinking about vocal instrumental consort music the names of amongst others Thomas Morley, Philip Rosseter and Richard Allison need to be noted. Composers such as Henry Lawes and William Webb, known before most for their high quality songbooks succeeded them. And finally, somewhere around 1650, we end up with the successful publisher of the manual for English dancing music, entitled “The Dancing Master”, John Playford.
The ensemble Zefiro Torna unites the best of the Belgian historical and traditional music scene and provides a delicious musical blend of sumptuous strings of lutes, cittern, guitar, theorbo and nyckelharpa, entwined with the crystal clear voice of soprano Cécile Kempenaers.
Tears of Joy offer you a delicate balance between pure beauty, tragedy, introspectiveness and cheerfulness, piquancies and a groovy feel.
Cécile Kempenaers soprano
Didier François Nyckelharpa
Jurgen De bruyn renaissance lute, archlute, baroque guitar, chant
Philippe Malfeyt renaissance lute, cittern, theorbo, baroque guitar, percussion
Liner Notes (by Simon Van Damme/ translation: Peter Hannosset)
Lute, Love & Longbottom Leaf...
The long lasting reign of Elisabeth I (starting in 1558) for England meant the end of a century of turmoil in which the religious reforms set in motion by the illustrious Henry VIII, were consolidated. The relative prosperity realised during the policy of the last Tudor queen even lasted after her death in 1603, while Jacob I held the throne. The stable political regime, together with a certain economical prosperity, secured a climate for the arts to prosper. Together with most of the composers on this recording, also playwrights such as William Shakespeare and Ben Johnson find themselves on the bridge between the 16th and 17th century. As music is concerned, apart from the blossoming cathedral polyphony, also more intimate genres see the daylight such as the typical English lute song.
At the end of the 16th century, England finds itself under the spell of a musical genre that had developed some decades earlier in Italy: the madrigal. It concerns poetical texts (at the beginning mostly texts by Francesco Petrarca) that composers set to polyphonous music. Although the madrigal only reached the British Isles relatively late, almost nowhere else the reception was more influential. The original repertoire was added to by English texts, and composers tried to emulate the expressivity of their Italian examples. Thomas Morley for instance was the ambassador par excellence of the genre (as a translator and publisher), but he also made his own contributions with new compositions.
Even though the lute song could be considered a close relative of the madrigal as atmosphere is concerned, the roots of the genre lie elsewhere. The song for a single voice accompanied by a lute (plaid by the singer himself or not) is a typical English concept that in fact didn’t have an equivalent in other countries. The songs share a poetical inspiration with the madrigals, but they choose their own path by playing a style with big rhetorical gestures in small formations. By preferring the solo voice to vocal polyphony, the lute song joins an evolution that manifests itself simultaneously on the continent. But whereas the success of the solo vocalist in countries such as Italy and France leads to the rise of the opera, the soloist in England finds himself at the centre of the small-scale enterprise of the lute song. One of the most popular representatives of the genre was John Dowland.
The words of the first song “Shall I weep or shall I sing” reflect a general characteristic of English songs at the beginning of the 17th century. The singer expresses a personal sorrow, that most of the time is the result of an amorous entanglement, young love or painful rejection. Musically, the words keep playing a central role: the song follows the poetical form of the poem (be it strophic or containing other repetitions), and the textual content is musically translated with the appropriate means (matched rhythms, sustained tones, typical accompaniment patterns). The subgenre of the complaint song, with melodies that at some points almost realistically approach the sound of crying, is popular in the repertoire for solo with accompaniment. Next to melancholic love complaints also more joyful songs can be heard, with playful or even exuberant themes. Sometimes an ode addresses the female beauty (invariably sketched against the background of a warm summer’s day), but it can also tell the story of other delights such as the tobacco. While the latter songs find their roots amongst city artists on street corners and on squares, the more elevated love verses stem from the context of the theatre or even the courtly tradition.