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BACK BEFORE BACH

MUSICAL JOURNEYS

 

PIFFARO

 

 

OVERVIEW

 

BACK BEFORE BACH, the latest Navona Records release from the Philadelphia-based ‘Renaissance band’ Piffaro, is an exceptional compendium of sixteenth and early seventeenth century German and Franco-Flemish music. As the album’s title suggests, the group of composers Piffaro features can be seen as the precedent for the luminaries of the German baroque era, specifically Johann Sebastian Bach. With BACK BEFORE BACH simultaneously drawing from a wide variety of genres, yet also focusing on a geographically and temporally limited group of composers, Piffaro succeeds wildly in presenting the musical foundation from which Bach and his contemporaries emerged.

 

Piffaro specializes in historical performance, and they bring a multidimensional approach to the works on this album. First, Piffaro showcases at least a half dozen different types of Renaissance-era instruments on BACK BEFORE BACH, from shawms and dulcians (early oboes and bassoons), to sackbuts (ancestors of the modern trombone), as well as recorders, krumhorns and bagpipes. Second, each set of pieces is arranged differently, sometimes homogenously but more often heterogeneously, featuring a mixture of the instruments described above. This flexible instrumentation is representative of consort-style performance, which defined instrumental music in the sixteenth century.

 

This is one way BACK BEFORE BACH is a persuasive time capsule; the other lies in the album’s programming, which illustrates many of the important trends in the era’s sacred and secular music. Consider the album’s dance pieces, for instance, especially Michael Praetorius’ “Volta.” Piffaro’s performance transports us to a noble court and through its driving rhythms and percussion accompaniment beckons us to dance. It is also particularly noteworthy that Piffaro includes a set of German popular songs on the album. Vernacular music from this period was rarely written down and, as a result, tends, unfairly, to be lost to history. The inclusion of these popular tunes is a rare and special treat for those who listen to BACK BEFORE BACH and adds valuable detail to Piffaro’s depiction of the musical world of sixteenth century Germany.

 

The works that most clearly demonstrate the lineage of German music leading up to Bach are the settings of Christ ist erstanden by seven different composers, including Bach himself. Curated brilliantly, these pieces clearly exemplify the evolution of European composers’ approach to harmony during the transition from the Renaissance era to the Baroque. Along these lines, the earliest of these works feature harmony as an important, yet incidental consequence of thick, contrapuntal webs, while – once we get to Praetorious and Bach – the central thematic material is treated with less rhythmic independence, resulting in a generally clearer, more vertically organized musical construction.

 

HIGHLIGHTS

 

This album is a time capsule meant to show the musical precedents that set the stage for German Baroque music, namely the works of J.S. Bach.

 

Piffaro approaches this album in the manner of a Renaissance consort, meaning they treat instrumentation flexibly and even perform vocal compositions with a solely instrumental ensemble.

 

Piffaro has received many awards for its contributions to early music, including the Laurette Goldberg ‘Lifetime Achievement Award in Early Music Outreach’ in 2011 and the American Recorder Society ‘Distinguished Achievement Award’ in 2015.

 

www.piffaro.org

 

 

CREDITS

 

Piffaro, The Renaissance Band

 

Joan Kimball & Robert Wiemken, Artistic Co-Directors

 

Grant Herreid – lute, guitar, shawm, recorders, percussion

 

Priscilla Herreid – shawms, recorders, dulcian, krumhorn

 

Greg Ingles – sackbut, recorder, krumhorn

 

Joan Kimball – shawms, recorders, dulcian, bagpipes, krumhorn

 

Christa Patton – shawm, schalmei, harp, bagpipes, krumhorn

 

Robert Wiemken – dulcians, shawm, recorders, krumhorn, douçaine, percussion

 

Guest Artists

 

Adam Bregman – sackbuts, recorder

 

Daphna Mor – recorders

 

Mack Ramsey – sackbuts, recorders

 

Erik Schmalz – sackbut

 

Recorded January 16-17, 2017 at Christ Church Christiana Hundred

and January 17-19 & March 7 at Immanuel Highlands Episcopal

Church in Wilmington DE

 

Recording  Sam Ward, Clark Conner

 

Producing Sam Ward, Joan Kimball, Robert Wiemken

 

Editing & Mastering Sam Ward

 

Photography Bill DiCecca & Church Street Studios

 

Cover art by  Hans Burgkmair

Triumphs of Maximilian, early 16th century woodcuts

 

Executive Producer Bob Lord

Executive A&R Sam Renshaw

A&R Alex Bourne

Audio Director Jeff LeRoy

Engineering Manager Lucas Paquette

Art & Production Director Brett Picknell

Design Ryan Harrison

 

 

ALSO ON RAVELLO RECORDS

 

Los Ministriles

In The New World

(NV5875)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Waytes (NV5823)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Piffaro (NV5809)

Release Date: July 14, 2017

Catalog #: NV6106

 

 

TRACK TITLES

 

Christ ist erstanden

 

 

1  Setting à 3

 

Anonymous, Glogauer Liederbuch (ca. 1480)

 

 

Setting à 4

 

Heinrich Isaac (1450-1515)

 

 

3  Setting à 5

 

Heinrich Finck (ca.1445 – 1527)

 

 

4  Setting à 5

 

Stephen Mahu (ca.1490 – ca.1591)

 

 

5  Setting à 3 “auf Bergreihenweis”

 

Johann Walther (1527-1578)

 

 

Setting à 4 “ad aequales”

 

Johann Walther

 

 

7  Chorale à 4

 

Michael Praetorius (1571 – 1621)

 

 

8  Chorale to BWV 276

 

Johann Sebastian Bach (1685 – 1750)

 

 

 

Innsbruck, ich muess dich lassen

 

 

9  Instrumental fantasy

 

Arr. Joan Kimball

 

 

10  Canon in tenor

 

Arr. Robert Wiemken

 

 

11  Insprugk ick muss dich lassen

 

Heinrich Isaac

 

 

12 Bruder Conrads Tantzmass & Nachtanz

 

pub. Paul & Bartholomeus Hessen

 

 

 

A solis ortus/Christum will

 

sollen loben schon

 

 

13  Latin Hymn: A solis ortus cardine

 

Coelius Sedulius (d. 450)

 

 

14  A solis ortus cardine

 

Anonymous (late 15th c.)

 

 

15  Motet: Christum wir sollen loben schon

 

Johann Walther

 

 

16  Hymnus: Christum wir sollen loben schon

 

Johann Walther

 

 

17  Chorale: A solis ortus

 

Michael Praetorius

 

 

18  Motet: A solis ortus

 

Michael Praetorius

 

 

19  Canzona: A solis ortus 

 

Samuel Scheidt (1587 – 1684)

 

 

20  Chorale: Christum wir sollen loben schon

 

Johann Sebastian Bach

 

 

 

A Suite of German dances

 

 

21 Intrada

 

Johann Ghro (1575 – 1627)

 

 

22  Passameze

 

Michael Praetorius

 

 

23  Allemande

 

Samuel Scheidt

 

 

24 La Volta

 

Michael Praetorius

 

 

 

The World of Chromaticism

 

 

25 Musica, Dei donum optimi  

 

Orlande de Lassus (ca.1532 – 1594)

 

 

26 Carmina chromatico: Prologue

 

Orlande de Lassus

 

 

27  Mirabile mysterium

 

Jakob Handl (1550 – 1591)

 

 

28  Sybilla Samia

 

Orlande de Lassus

 

 

29  Da pacem, Domine

 

Melchior Franck (ca. 1579 – 1639)

 

 

 

A Song from Andernach

 

along the Rhine

 

 

30  Melody  

 

Arr. Joan Kimball

 

 

31  Tanndernac

 

Antoine Brumel (ca. 1460 – 1512 or 1513)

 

 

32 Tandernaken op den Rijn 

 

Pierre Alamire (ca. 1470 – 1536)

 

 

33  T’ander naken

 

Jakob Obrecht (1450 – 1505)

 

 

34  Tandernack

 

Ludwig Senfl (ca.1486 – ca.1543)

 

 

 

Suite of German Dances

 

 

35  Ballet des Aveugles  

 

Arr. Joan Kimball, after Michael Praetorius

 

 

36 Padouana

 

Johann Hermann Schein (1586 – 1630)

 

 

37  La Rosette

 

Michael Praetorius

 

 

38 Bransle Simple

 

Michael Praetorius

 

© NAVONA RECORDS LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

 

Navona Records is the contemporary classical label imprint of audio production house PARMA Recordings. Dedicated to highlighting forward thinking composers and musicians from around the world, the New England-based label's eclectic catalog offers listeners a cross-section of today's up-and-coming innovators in orchestral, chamber, and experimental music.

 

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