Michael Praetorius: Dances from Terpsichore, Courante; Voices of Music 4K UHD

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The Courante from Terpsichore (1612) by Michael Praetorius. Live, 4K UHD video from the San Francisco Early Music ensemble Voices of Music concert, December 17, 2016.
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Michael Praetorius was one of the most important composers and theorists of the late renaissance and early-17th century. His astonishing encyclopedia of music gives us an intriguing glimpse into the instruments and performance practices of the time, and his writing covers all aspects of music. Praetorius wrote popular hymn settings, as well as large-scale compositions that borrowed elements of the polychoral Italian tradition. Praetorius was a tune collector, just like the musicologists of the late 19th and early 20th centuries who collected songs and dances from different countries; he planned eight volumes of these secular works, but he only finished one: his book of French instrumental dances Terpsichore, named after the muse of dance (1612).
Orchestration: in the 1960s and 1970s, these works were heavily orchestrated—and conducted—in a neo-renaissance style. Although not grounded in historical performance, these orchestrations did, however, introduce a wider audience to the different kinds of instruments in the late renaissance and early baroque and helped popularize the music before Bach.
The string band at this time was the core group for dance dance music, so our performance is primarily strings using early 17th century bows, although a more complex orchestration is not incompatible with Praetorius’s large scale works.
The term “courante” means “running”, and the earliest form of the dance was based on running and jumping steps. By the late baroque period, the dance took on a more stylized form: the theorist Johann Mattheson wrote (quite poetically) that “The motion of a courante is chiefly characterized by the passion or mood of sweet expectation. For there is something heartfelt, something longing and also gratifying, in this melody: clearly music on which hopes are built.”
(Der vollkommene Capellmeister, Hamburg, 1739)

Voices of Music
Hanneke van Proosdij and David Tayler
Musicians (left to right)
Carla Moore, Gabrielle Wunsch, Lisa Grodin and
Maxine Nemerovski, baroque violins
Maria Caswell, baroque viola
Peter Maund, riqq
Elisabeth Reed and Tanya Tomkins, baroque cellos
Farley Pearce, violone
Hanneke van Proosdij, harpsichord
David Tayler, archlute & percussion


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