Early Music Week

February 1 to 7


It’s easy to forget that baroque masters J.S. Bach and Antonio Vivaldi built on an existing musical tradition. Had they not been influenced by the early music of Palestrina, Josquin, and Claudio Monteverdi, western classical music would have sounded markedly different. Stingray Brava renews its acquaintance with baroque music’s predecessors, dedicating seven days to the most authentic performances of the music of days long gone.

Stingray Brava’s Early Music Week starts on Wednesday, February 1, with Collegium Musicum Amsterdam’s performance of Palestrina’s Missa Papae Marcelli. Filmmaker and musician Daniël Brüggen recorded this early music masterpiece in his own, inimitable style. Enjoy the documentary La Serenissima on February 2, and discover everything about the development of the Venetian School and commercial opera. On February 3, we present a piece that bridges the gap between renaissance and baroque: Monteverdi’s beautiful Vespro della Beata Vergine. With this composition, Monteverdi moved far beyond the music of his predecessors – including Palestrina.

Get your weekend off to a great start. On Saturday, February 4 at 14:00, Jordi Savall leads his Hespèrion XXI ensemble. This Spanish-Catalan conductor has spearheaded the early music movement since the 1970s. On Monday, February 6 at 20:30, Savall and Hespèrion XXI can be enjoyed again, this time performing the Llibre Vermell de Montserrat, a collection of medieval texts from Catalonia, Spain.

Sunday brings you magnificent madrigals by composers John Dowland, Adriano Banchieri, Monteverdi, Palestrina, Josquin, and Adriaan Willaert, performed expertly by the amarcord ensemble. Stingray Brava’s Early Music Week ends with the Dutch Cappella Pratensis ensemble performing Josquin des Prez’ beautiful Missa Ave Maris Stella on Tuesday morning at 10:00.

Wednesday, February 1 at 14:00 CET | Palestrina - Missa Papae Marcelli

Ever since the ensemble’s foundation in 1935, it has been a strong advocate of 15th and 16th century polyphonic ensemble music. This repertoire is part of the Dutch cultural heritage, stemming from the era when Orlando di Lasso (1532-1594), Jan Pieterszoon Sweelinck (1562-1621), and several other composers from the Low Countries rose to fame in various Italian courts. In its own inimitable way, the Collegium Musicum Amsterdam aims to bring the beauty of this repertoire to the attention of today’s audience. Together with filmmaker and musician Daniël Brüggen, the Collegium commits this resounding music to film: Brüggen records several masterpieces from this golden age of vocal ensemble music in his own, recognizable visual style. The image does not just register the players’ musicianship: the visual aspect adds a new layer of artistic meaning to the music. The first composition to receive this treatment is Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina’s Missa Papae Marcelli. This 1562 mass, dedicated to Pope Marcellus II, is arguably Palestrina (ca. 1525 – 1594) best work: it has a beautiful polyphonic style and an unmatched harmonic structure that makes it easy to understand the words. Partly due to this, Palestrina’s mass seems to represent the new liturgical practice, which people had come to expect from sacred music after the Council of Trent (1545-1563).

Conductor: Anthony Zielhorst
Performers: Collegium Musicum Amsterdam
Location: St-Michaëlkerk, Schalkwijk, the Netherlands
Video Director: Daniël Brüggen
Composer: Pierluigi da Palestrina
Year: 2016

Thursday, February 2 at 21:00 CET | Documentary: La Serenissima

Even in the face of modern-day mass tourism, communities in the Venice area are traditionally known as ‘La Serenissima’, which translated is ‘the Most Serene Republic of Venice’. In the documentary La Serenissima, philosopher Rosi Braidotti investigates the factors that made Venice an economic force. Together with experts Marco Mencoboni, Avery Gosfield, Olivier Lexa, Micky White and Jan van der Berg, Braidotti takes us on a journey through the past millennium. On our trip, we visit composer Adriaen Willaert’s Venetian School, and explore the development of commercial opera and the recent revaluation of the music of baroque composer Antonio Vivaldi.

Location: Venice, Italy
Year: 2016

Friday, February 3 at 21:00 CET | Monteverdi - Vespro della beata vergine

In ca. 1600, composer Claudio Monteverdi (1567-1643) composed new works for choir and soloists. In this period, Monteverdi combined traditional styles with newer ones, such as madrigal and liturgical compositions. These works became an enormous success, cementing the composer’s reputation as an important figure in Baroque music. His example set the standard for all significant religious Baroque music styles, such as the oratorio, the cantata, and the passion. Actively combining various styles was not only put into practice in religious music, but also in opera. A great example of combined styles is the work Vespro della beata vergine (ca. 1610), also known as the Vespers for the Blessed Virgin. Vespers like these were performed mainly in Roman-Catholic churches.

Location: Carolus Borromeuskerk, Antwerp, Belgium
Conductor: Philippe Herreweghe
Performers: Dorothee Blotzki-Mields, Katharine Fuge, Mark Padmore, Jan Kobow, Furio Zanasi, Dominik Wörner, Concerto Platino, Collegium Vocale
Composer: Claude Monteverdi
Producer: EXQI
Year: 2010

Saturday, February 4 at 14:00 CET| Jordi Savall - The Borgia Dynasty

Though crime and corruption may first cross your mind when you think of the illustrious Borgia family, they were in fact great patrons of the arts. Italian renaissance culture flourished at their courts. Jordi Savall, a legend in period music, researched their impact on Italian culture. This concert recreates the world of the Borgias by unearthing and performing the music they knew, commissioned and, in the case of Francis, probably composed.

Conductor: Jordi Savall
Performers: Le Concert des Nations, Montserrat Figueras, Pascal Bertin, Lluis Vilamajó, Marc Mauillon, Furio Zanasi, Daniele Carnovich, La Cappella Reial de Catalunya, Hespèrion XXI

Sunday, February 5 at 14:00 CET| The Book of Madrigals

In their new Book of Madrigals, the a capella ensemble amarcord presents outstanding European Renaissance compositions by van John Dowland, Adriano Banchieri, Claudio Monteverdi, Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina, Josquin des Prez and Adriaan Willaert. Along with percussionist Michael Metzler, viola da gamba player Hille Perl, and the American lutenist Lee Santana, the ensemble met in the Venetia region of northern Italy in the fall of 2013. In the unique setting of Villa Godi, built by the Italian Renaissance architect Andrea Palladio, they recorded these madrigals under the best imaginable studio conditions. Prepare for a treat!

Location: Villa Godi, Italy
Performers: Ensemble Amarcord
Composers: Dowland, Banchieri, Monteverdi, Palestrina, Josquin, Willaert
Producer: ACCENTUS with ZDF/Arte
Video Director: Günther Atteln
Year: 2013

Monday, February 6 at 21:00 CET | El Llibre Vermell de Montserrat

The Red Book of Montserrat is a collection of medieval manuscripts from the area surrounding the Virgin of Montserrat Abbey in Catalonia, Spain. This collection, which was compiled for use by pilgrims, contained liturgical, informative and instructive texts and songs about the Maria celebrations near the monastery of Montserrat. The collection, which was bound together in the late 14th century, gets its name from its 19th-century red binding. It contains a number of songs, ten of which include a musical notation. Some of these songs have the characteristics of folk songs: the pilgrims often spent their nights in churches, where they sang songs of devotion alongside traditional folk music. Also included are several canons, dances, and a motet. In today’s broadcast, Hespèrion XXI and La Capella Reial de Catalunya, led by Jordi Savall, perform these ten songs in Barcelona’s 14th century Gothic church Santa Maria del Pi.

Conductor: Jordi Savall
Performers: Hespèrion XXI, La Capella Reial de Catalunya
Producer: Benjamin Bleton
Publisher: Lukarn
Location: Santa Maria de Pi, Barcelona
Year: 2013

Tuesday, February 7 at 10:00 CET | Cappella Pratensis - Josquin in Rome

Even in his time, Josquin des Prez (1450-1521) was the most famous member of the ‘Fiamminghi’, Flemish composers who made their way from the Low Countries to Italy. Josquin’s beautiful Missa Ave Maris Stella is an early composition written for the Annunciation in the Sistine Chapel, in which the composer builds on an extant piece by his illustrious predecessor and compatriot Guillaume Dufay. Conductor Stratton Bull leads Cappella Pratensis in this 2015 concert recording from the imposing Pieterskerk in Utrecht, the Netherlands.

Conductor: Stratton Bull
Performers: Cappella Pratensis
Composer: Josquin des Prez
Producer: Concerto Media
Location: Pieterskerk, Utrecht, the Netherlands
Year: 2015