Feuer und Bravour Feuer und Bravour

Berlin's libraries contain innumerable historic manuscripts. Studying the 18th century archives, one can't fail to notice the profusion of highly virtuosic works for the viola da gamba. How did such an accumulation of compositions arise for an instrument that — in other parts of Europe at that time — was already long past its zenith of success? Both Frederick the Great (1712-1786) and his successor Frederick William II (1744-1797) were great musical benefactors. Almost every important late-18th -century viola da gamba virtuoso came to play at the Berlin court during their reign. The greatest virtuoso of the time didn't have to be summoned, because he was already engaged at the court: Ludwig Christian Hesse (1716-1772). The presence of this great virtuoso led to the creation of many works for viola da gamba at the Berlin court, generally technically very demanding and idiomatically written, which are directly linked to Hesse.

Musicke & Mirth  MUSICKE & MIRTH was founded in 1997 by Jane Achtman and Irene Klein in Basel. The ensemble's name is taken from the title of a piece by Tobias Hume which inspired the two musicians to investigate the exciting repertoire for two or more viols. Its main concern is the rediscovery of less known works, their programs ranging from the first music prints from Nuremburg around 1440, through the English lyra viol music of the 17th century, up to the galant style of the Berlin School.
They perform on period instruments (or their copies) and from original scores, paying great attention to historical performance practice. The combination of authenticity and virtuosity paired with a unique performing flair has made the ensemble successful both in concert halls and at competitions. Musicke & Mirth won third prize in the American Dorian/EMA Recording Competition in 1997, second prize in the Premio Bonporti in Rovereto, Italy in 1998, and second prize at the Van Wassenaer Competion in The Hague in 2000.
Since its formation the ensemble has developed various programs in different combinations, travelling throughout Europe. In 2005 it played at the Festival Concentus Moraviae in the Czech Republic and in 2007 was invited to perform for the WDR3 Funkhauskonzerte in Cologne. The ensemble often participates as a duo in large productions, such as an opera version of Johann Sebastian Bach's Actus Tragicus with the conductor Michael Hofstetter, which was performed in Basel in 2000/01 and in Stuttgart 2006/07 and 2007/08. In 2006, Musicke & Mirth accompanied the Collegium Vocale Gent for a European tour of Dietrich Buxtehude's Membra Jesu Nostri.

Irene Klein and Jane Achtman, viola da gamba
Rebeka Rusó, violoncello
Barbara Maria Willi, fortepiano and harpsichord

Ludwig Christian Hesse (1716-1772)    
Opera arrangements for two viola da gambas and violoncello    
from Zaïde, reine de Grenade by Joseph-Nicolas-Pancrace Royer 1. Ouverture
  2. Lent et doux
from Le Roy et le Fermier by François-André-Danican Philidor /
Pierre-Alexandre Monsigny
3. Ah! Ma Tante
Georg Anton Benda (1722-1795)    
from Sammlung vermischter Clavierstücke I 4. Sonatina I in D Major, Rondeau. Andante
  5. Sonatina II in F Major, Andantino
  6. Sonatina III in A Minor, Allegro
Christoph Schaffrath (1709-1763)    
Duetto für zwei Viole di gamba in D Minor 7. Poco allegro
  8. Adagio
  9. Allegro
Ludwig Christian Hesse (1716-1772)  
Opera arrangements for two viola da gambas and violoncello    
from Castor et Pollux by Jean-Philippe Rameau 10. Descente de Jupiter. Majestueux
from Le Roy et le Fermier by François-André Danican Philidor /
Pierre-Alexandre Monsigny
11. Andante Allegretto
from Les Fêtes d'Hébé by Jean-Philippe Rameau 12. Accourez, riante jeunesse
  13. Tambourin en Rondeau
Anonymous (mid-18th century)    
  14. Scherzando in F Major
  15. Rondeau in C Major
Georg Anton Benda (1722-1795)    
from Sammlung vermischter Clavierstücke I 16. Sonatina IV in C Major, Mezzo allegro
  17. Sonatina V in E Minor, Allegretto
  18. Sonatina VI in D Minor, Allegretto
Johann Gottlieb Graun (1702/3-1771)    
Trio Concertante in D Major 19. Allegro non troppo
  20. Arioso
  21. Scherzo