The Quilisma Consort presents

Avant Garde:
Then & Now

3 pm, Sunday, March 6, 2011
at the Loring-Greenough House

I. The Middle Ages
In seculum breve Anonymous (13th c.)
This Spanish instrumental piece features an innovative rhythmic technique: Strategically placed rests in the upper two voices cause them to pass notes back and forth, both at a large rhythmic division and at a smaller, quicker pace. The effect makes it clear why this technique was known as hoquetus, which is Latin for “hiccup.”
De ma dolour ne puis trover confort
En attendant, soufrir m’estuet grief paine
En remirant vo douche portraiture
Sus une fontayne
Filippotto da Caserta
Johanes Ciconia
Constantly shifting rhythmic proportions and cross-rhythms among the three voices produce an intricate musical texture. But these pieces share more than complexity. In Sus une fontayne, Ciconia quotes the openings of the three pieces by Filippotto, subtly woven into the texture of his own work.
Dame zentil en qui est ma sperance
He, tres doulz roussignol
Ma trédol rosignol joly
Antonello da Caserta
Composers often imitate the sounds of nature in their music. The two pieces by Borlet both invoke and evoke birdsong. The singer calls upon the nightingale to send a message to his lover, and the music features imitations of birdcalls. Also, both pieces are built upon the same ground, a simple tune that repeats several times in the lowest voice. Here, the ground is played on harp to distinguish it from the bird-like sound of the recorders.
II. 20th–21st Centuries
Theme on D
Waltz Canon
Melika M. Fitzhugh (2008)
Fitzhugh (2010)
Fitzhugh (2008)
Fitzhugh (2010)
Fitzhugh’s music approaches rhythm in a playful manner, often with creative reinterpretations of early music styles. Sicilian-ish is a variant of the Siciliano, an instrumental form popular from the Baroque through the Romantic eras. In addition to clipping the meter from its traditional 6/8 to the asymmetrical 5/8, it includes a hoquetus-style passage reminiscent of the first piece on the program. Alarum explores how the tuning of pitches (“temperament”) changed over time. The temperament in the Middle Ages favored perfectly tuned fourths, fifths, and octaves, allowing thirds to be rather dissonant. Today, Western music uses a temperament that prefers stable thirds and sacrifices resonance in larger intervals. Alarum opens with a theme on Renaissance instruments (mean tone temperament) and then shifts to modern ones (equal temperament). Two pieces in this set feature improvisations that borrow from ars subtilior composition techniques.
Phyton, le mervilleus serpent
In the Transgressive Mode
Robert Kyr (1989)
Lance Eccles (1998)
Eccles (1998)
David Amram (1973)
Kyr’s Threefold Vision is a suite of vocal pieces inspired by the ars subtilior style, originally composed for the early music group Ensemble Project Ars Nova. The selection presented here, Phyton, is based on a ballade written by Guillaume de Machaut in the 14th century. Eccles, an Australian composer, has written several pieces for recorder. In the Transgressive Mode and Caterpillar are explorations of rhythm, including offset patterns, two-against-three, and hoquetus. Amram’s freeform piece for solo recorder, Zohar, makes use of modern extended techniques, such as quarter tones, pitch bending, and slides.