Agency for Early Music

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Programmes Per-Sonat - Sabine Lutzenberger

Until the world's ending...
German songs of the Renaissance

Bild Dürer: Adam und Eva The programme Until the World's Ending thematises the influence of the Reformation on the spiritual and secular songs, the changing taste of the times, and the euphoria for Italy of the 16th and early 17th centuries in Germany.

Starting from the new hymns of Martin Luther developed in the German-speaking countries in the century after the death of the reformer, a new form was created: the German song of a humanistically educated bourgeoisie. These songs reflect thoughts about morality and the art of living, combined with the desire to find salvation at the end of ones' life - that is, at the world's ending. Thus in this genre the boundary between sacred and secular music nearly dissipated.

Moreover also Mediterranean elements played an important role in this development, as many composers (such as Lasso or Hassler) studied and at least partly worked in Italy at the time and were therefore also heavily influenced by the prevailing musical style there.

Using the tools of historically oriented performance practice and their profound knowledge of ornamentation and the art of diminution, PER-SONAT directed by Sabine Lutzenberger in this programme is rediscovering a today mostly unknown repertoire, which fascinates first of all with its simple beauty and emotionality, but also with the sophistically constructed relations between text, character and melody of each piece.
Thus here you can enjoy touching simplicity as well as fiery-worshiping, well-known melodies as well as anonymous and long-forgotten dance movements of the 16th and 17th centuries, in works by Martin Luther, Ludwig Senfl, Orlando di Lasso, Hans Neusiedler, Hans Leo Hassler, Giacomo Gorzanis, Leonhard Lechner and Johann Hermann Schein.

Sabine Lutzenberger - voice and musical direction
Elizabeth Rumsey - Renaissance viol, lirone
Baptiste Romain - Renaissance violin
Marc Lewon - lute and viola d’arco

Listen here to one of the songs from the programme: Johann Hermann Scheins Ach Gott und Herr.

«Kein Adler in der Welt so schön»
Renaissance Music from the court of emperor Maximilian I

Bild Kaiser MaximilianThis programme for the 500th anniversary of the death of Maximilian I (1459-1519) shows a cross-section of the repertoire of the court chapels of this emperor, with a focus on the most present composers in these ensembles: Heinrich Isaac, Ludwig Senfl and Paul Hofhaimer.

Maximilian I, Archduke of the House of Habsburg, called the Last Knight, is much discussed these days - not least thanks to the current TV series Maximilian in Germany. Born in 1459 in Wiener Neustadt, he became Duke of Burgundy through his marriage to Mary of Burgundy in 1477 and also took over the Burgundian court chapel, one of Europe's leading ensembles. Soon composers such as Pierre de la Rue, Alexander Agricola, Marbriano de Orto, Antonius Divitis and Nicolas Champion started to write masses, motets and chansons for him on a regular basis.

After the death of his father Emperor Friedrich III in 1493 Maximilian became also Roman-German King and inherited Austria, in 1508 he was elected Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire. From 1493 on he also expanded the Viennese court chapel, installing a pool of singers and instrumentalists in Vienna, Augsburg and Innsbruck.
Maximilian's claim to professionalism, however, also moved him to innovations such as the appointment of a court composer, who was first contractually committed to the deliberate establishment of a polyphonic liturgical repertoire for daily church services: a task that held Heinrich Isaak at the imperial court for several decades.
By him, but also by composers such as Paul Hofhaimer, Ludwig Senfl, Pierre de la Rue and Jacob Obrecht were the works of this programme written, which offers a broad cross section through the music, which sounded at the Burgundian royal and German imperial court during secular and religious celebrations at that time.

PER-SONAT presents this repertoire in a relatively large cast, with which the musicians can excellently reflect the splendor and solemnity of some of these pieces as well as the intimacy and emotionality of others.

Sabine Lutzenberger - voice and musical direction
Tobie Miller - recorders and soprano
Bernd Oliver Fröhlich - tenor
Tim Scott Whitely – bass
Elizabeth Rumsey - Renaissance viol
Baptiste Romain - Renaissance violin, fiddle
Marc Lewon - lute, viola d’arco

Here you can listen to a live recording of a work by Ludwig Senfl with Per-Sonat: Unser Pfarrer ist auf der Bahn.

Asceticism - and the gateway to the world
Music from the Cistercian monasteries of Europe

picture Bernhard von ClairvauxIt was in 1098, when Robert de Molesme, abbot of the Benedictine monastery Molesme in Burgundy founded the monastery Citeaux in the middle of a lonely wetland near Dijon.
For a long time the abbot had been dissatisfied with the secular and luxurious way of life of his Benedictine confreres. In the newly founded Brotherhood of Citeaux this should be different: they wanted to live simply and poorly only by the work of their own hands, intended to follow the Benedictine rule again literally.

First it was only a very small group of monks who lived together in Citeaux - until in 1112 the young nobleman Bernhard joined the monastery together with about 30 relatives and friends. Bernhard's charisma had the effect that more and more men decided for the strict rule of the Order and the ascetic life in Citeaux. So he was sent out already two years after his entry to found the monastery of Clairvaux in Champagne, where he became the first abbot - and from which derives the name under which he is known today: Bernard of Clairvaux.

As the first centralisticly organised fraternity, it was essential for the Cistercians that rites and customs should be the same in all the monasteries, and so from 1148 on Bernard von Clairvaux spent five years creating new versions of the liturgical chants. He wanted them to be as pure and beautiful as possible, and so he can be regarded as one of the most important choral reformers of the Middle Ages.

This programme presents some of those newly created chants of the Cistercians, but not only: in order to lighten the simplicity of unison music from the early days of the Order, PER-SONAT also includes splendid polyphonic music from the Cistercian monastery of Las Huelgas in Spain (founded in 1187): mystical experiences of faith, but also the renewal of the 12th and 13th centuries are reflected in these chants of the intellectual and educated nuns, the French polyphony that was heard at Masses and in the Liturgy of the Hours in Las Huelgas in the 13th century

Sabine Lutzenberger - mezzosoprano and direction
Tobie Miller - hurdy-gurdy and soprano
Christine Mothes - soprano
Baptiste Romain – fiddle, bagpipes

He kisses me with the kiss of his mouth ...
A musical dialogue between Hildegard von Bingen and Bernhard von Clairvaux

Bild Hildegard von BingenThe programme He kisses me with the kiss of his mouth ... - a quotation from the Song of Solomon, often used by Bernhard von Clairvaux (1090-1153) - presents the idiosyncratic compositions of Hildegard von Bingen (1098-1175) facing the songs of the Cistercians, conceived by Bernhard, in their common simplicity and purism. She: A clairvoyant visionary and composer in the Benedictine order, advisor to emperors, kings and popes - he: a scholar and rhetorician who, with his power of persuasion, quickly spread the Cistercian Order throughout Europe. And both of them decisively influenced the intellectual currents of their time.

The correspondence between them is an eloquent testimony of medieval history and shows the differences and similarities between two congregations, but also in the hymns of Mass and the Liturgy of the Hours, these different views are expressed: here the ecstatic compositions of Hildegard, richly ornamented with a vast range of tones, there the sober, almost entirely ornamentless Cistercian chorals.

Thus with this programme PER-SONAT wants to make audible and experienceable the musical dialogue between these two great personalities of the 12th century - precisely because it is by far not as well known as their correspondence. However, the audience will quickly feel that the musical debate is in no way inferior to the intellectual dialogue on the mystical experiences of the 12th century!

Sabine Lutzenberger - mezzosoprano and direction
Tobie Miller - hurdy-gurdy and soprano
Christine Mothes - soprano
Baptiste Romain – fiddle, bagpipes

Here you can listen to Hildegard von Bingen's Antiphon O splendidissima gemma:

Mer amère
Songs of veneration to Maria and songs of love and longing from the Codex Cyprus

picture Cypriot codexThe title of this programme Mer amère (Bitter Sea) refers to one of the traditions associated with the worship of Mary: as patron saint of seafarers, who in their travels as crusaders to the Holy Land or in their work at sea call for help. In countless songs she is called Stella Maris or Stella Matutina; Morning Star or Star of the Sea.
But Mer amère also stands for the bitter tears and hurt of those in love, who have been wounded by the arrows of Cupid. The deftly-crafted Ballades of the Codex Cyprus recount both sides of the state of desire, the pleasure and the pain of longing.

This Codex, copied in the 15th century for King Janus of Cyprus, incorporates music written under the influence of the French and Italian Ars Subtilior. The experimental style of this Ars obscura reveals an inclination towards rhythmic and harmonic complexity and was deeply influenced by the work of Guillaume de Machaut. The Lusignan family brought French culture to the island and reigned over Cyprus from 1192 until 1489, and the artistic development of their culture in these three centuries was admired throughout Europe. From this precious collection PER-SONAT directed by Sabine Lutzenberger has chosen the most beautiful Marian songs and love songs, which are presented in this programme.

Sabine Lutzenberger - soprano
Tobie Miller - medieval recorders, hurdy-gurdy
Elizabeth Rumsey - fiddle
Baptiste Romain - fiddle, bagpipes

The Roman de Fauvel
A satire on society, church and state in France

picture FauvelTold in a series of songs, this is the story of Fauvel, a donkey who with the help of Fortune becomes a powerful lord. Popes and Kings make pilgrimages to visit Fauvel and flatter him; and the world, over which he rules, is turned on its head: the King overrules the Pope, women command men, the poor become rich and the moon gives light to the sun. The time of the Antichrist is here and the apocalypse draws near.

Will it actually come?

That's what PER-SONAT will reveal in the songs of this programme.
Because the Roman de Fauvel also contains a great deal of music: French and Latin songs of the Ars Antiqua and Ars Nova, the polyphonic styles of 13th and 14th century France. Philippe de Vitry and other composers associated with the University in Paris set the story to music in the most modern forms; Lays, Rondeaux, Virelais and Ballades.

The often-forgotten narrative is presented here in a newly edited, scholarly version and finally performed again. Look forward to a topsy-turvy world full of wit and music!

Sabine Lutzenberger - soprano
Tobie Miller - medieval recorders, hurdy-gurdy
Elizabeth Rumsey - fiddle
Baptiste Romain - fiddle, bagpipes
Katharina Eickhoff - presentation

Here you'll hear PER-SONAT performing a piece of French repertoire on our YouTube Channel.

Here you'll find some more audio samples on our website.

The ensemble picture PER-SONATPER-SONAT was founded in 2008 by singer Sabine Lutzenberger in order to perform music from the Middle Ages up to the Renaissance. In this repertoire, PER-SONAT quickly established itself as one of the leading groups in Europe and beyond.

The cast of the ensemble ranges from two to eight musicians, depending on the repertoire, and all their concerts and recordings place particular emphasis on interpretations based on thorough knowledge of the original sources, explaining the medieval lyric in a thrilling and vivid way, and creatively involving authentic playing techniques, improvisation and instrumental accompaniment.

With this in mind, Sabine Lutzenberger and her colleagues want not only to (re-) explore this splendid music which was often forgotten for centuries, but also to convey to their audiences the mentality and intellectual ideas of the Middle Ages and Renaissance in the context of this music, which is so closely connected to religion, philosophy and poetry.

PER-SONAT was and is invited for concerts in the most important Early Music Festivals all over Europe, such as Festival Oude Muziek Utrecht, Tage Alter Musik Regensburg, montalbâne, Festival Musique Médiévale Abbaye du Thoronet, Laus Polyphoniae Antwerp, Voix et Route Romane, Netwerk Concerten Utrecht, Via Medieval, and many others.

The ensemble has released five CDs so far: Heinrich von Meissen, the Roman de la Rose, Hildegard von Bingen, Walther von der Vogelweide and the German song of the Renaissance and all were warmly welcomed by audiences and critics.
Several broadcast recordings complement the work of PER-SONAT.

picture Sabine LutzenbergerSabine Lutzenberger finished her recorder studies at the Musikhochschule Zürich in 1990 and subsequently gained her diploma in Medieval and Renaissance singing at the famous Schola Cantorum Basiliensis.
She has been a member of the Ensemble for Early Music, Augsburg (Ensemble für frühe Musik Augsburg) for years, and is a pioneer of medieval singing. Furthermore she received important inspiration through her work with well-known groups like Mala Punica (Italy), Huelgas Ensemble/Paul Van Nevel (Belgium), Sequentia (France), Concerto Palatino/Bruce Dickey (Italy) and Millenarium (France) and soon established herself as one of the foremost interpreters of Medieval and Renaissance repertoire in Europe.

Her repertoire spans the 9th to 17th centuries, with an additional focus on contemporary music.

Sabine has performed in most of the well-known festivals of Early Music in Europe and beyond, such as Festival d’Ambronay, Festival van Vlaanderen, Festival Oude Muziek Utrecht, Laus Polyphoniae Antwerpen, Tage Alter Musik Regensburg, Festival de Saintes, Festival Le Thoronet, Festival „il canto delle pietre“, MDR Musiksommer, Resonanzen Wien, Zeitfenster Berlin, 4020 Linz, and many others.