The path that all interested listeners are about to follow leads to the deep and as yet not fully explored woodlands of the instrumental music of the latter half of the fifteenth century in or around southern Germany. It will zig-zag from one repertoire to another, from one manuscript to another, and of course from one ‘soundscape’ to another by presenting different combinations of instruments, in dialogue or simply allowing some of them stand alone to speak for themselves so that at the end of their sonic journey, listeners can fully enjoy a panoramic view of this rich and fascinating tradition.
The major part of the repertoire presented here is culled from three important manuscripts, all copied in the second half of the fifteenth century: the Buxheim organ book (Bux, ca. 1470), the Lochamer song book (Loch, ca. 1460), and the Glogauer partbooks (or Zagan partbooks, to use the title favoured in some recent studies). All three of the books are treasure troves of delightful and unexpected discoveries. Among the composers presented in the French section of this recording are some of the most eminent and wellknown musicians of the fifteenth century: Guillaume Du Fay, Gilles Binchois, Antoine Busnois.
The works are interspersed with Buxheimer’s free instrumental improvisations, redeuntes and preambula. The former consist of a highly ornamented upper voice flowing against a sustained (or repeated) note in the lower, whereas the latter are essentially fantasia-like pieces divided into several parts with contrasting rhythms and textures. Although the rendition here is purely instrumental, words are constantly there at a subliminal level, creating yet another semantic and sonic layer – imperceptible, but always present in the background.