Terpsichore, Muse of the Dance / Skip Sempé

When it comes to the sound of a renaissance band, I have to admit that a raunchier one than is heard here has generally been more my cup of gruel. Give me blaring shawms, raucous bagpipes, rude crumhorns, thunderous drums and throw in a hurdy-gurdy once in a while – the bawdier the better! But I know that there’s more than one way to skin a haggis. On this new Paradizo CD, Skip Sempé and his Capriccio Stravagante Renaissance Orchestra have created a program that not only includes some of the edgier sounds these bands can produce, but presents a wide range of instrumental textures and, perhaps more importantly, music of the Renaissance that has been overlooked.

Programs of music from this time have tended to favor frequently recorded pieces by Praetorius, Susato and Holborne, which has left a considerable range of music unexplored. Mr. Sempé cites William Brade, who is well represented here, as an example of a composer whose music has been unjustly ignored. In addition to Brade, Praetorius and Holborne round out most of the rest of the program along with two brief pieces by John Bennet and Moritz Landgraf von Hessen, two unfamiliar names that certainly deserve an appearance.

Mr. Sempé makes the case that renaissance composers wrote not only dance music, but art music as well, not intended to accompany dancers. The enormous variety of sounds produced in the dance numbers by mixing groups of strings, brass, woodwinds and percussion is enough to hold your interest, but aside from these spirited numbers are some very lyrical, beautiful and more profound ones.

Terpsichore, Muse of the Dance is the title of this album from the small Paradizo label. It’s a great recording that serves perfectly to initiate new enthusiasts for renaissance music, but at the same time provides enough that is new to satisfy the already enthused.

Album Overview

Skip Sempé and the Capriccio Stravagante Renaissance Orchestra present Terpsichore, Muse of the Dance – a recording of masterpieces of Renaissance dance music by Michael Praetorius and William Brade. One of the most prolific composers of the period, Praetorius collected and arranged more than three hundred dances for his anthology Terpsichore. William Brade was a great but unknown English contemporary of Praetorius. Brade’s instrumental collections have been just as neglected as those of Praetorius have been celebrated.


Composer: Michael Praetorius

Michael Praetorius (February 15, 1571 – February 15, 1621) was a German composer, organist, and music theorist. He was one of the most versatile composers of his age, being particularly significant in the development of musical forms based on Protestant hymns, many of which reflect an effort to improve the relationship between Protestants and Catholics.

For more information, please visit en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Michael_Praetorius.

Composer: William Brade

William Brade (1560 – 26 February 1630) was an English composer, violinist, and viol player of the late Renaissance and early Baroque eras, mainly active in northern Germany. He was the first Englishman to write a canzona, an Italian form, and probably the first to write a piece for solo violin.

For more information, please visit en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_Brade.

Other Composers: Moritz Landgraf von Hessen, Anthony Holborne, and John Bennet

Conductor: Skip Sempé

Skip Sempé, virtuoso harpsichordist, director and founder of Capriccio Stravagante, is at the forefront of today’s musical personalities in Renaissance and Baroque music. Since the very beginning, the magic combination of nonchalance and power – the trademarks of Skip Sempé and Capriccio Stravagante’s live and recorded performances – has been rewarded with outstanding critical praise worldwide.

For more information, please visit http://www.skipsempe.com/skip-sempe/.

Performers: Capriccio Stravagante

Capriccio Stravagante is world-renowned for their memorable interpretations of Renaissance and Baroque music. It all began in 1986, when Skip Sempé founded France’s first internationally distinguished chamber ensemble especially dedicated to seventeenth and eighteenth century instrumental repertoire.

For more information, please visit http://www.stravagante.com/capriccio-stravagante/.


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