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Polyphony and the End of Love in Ars Antiqua

Old Church of Sequeirô - Santo Tirso - 4pm 

Tasto Solo
Anne-Kathryn Olsen (EUA/FRA)
Guillermo Pérez (ESP/FRA)

The 13th century was an essential period for the development and flourishing of polyphony in the West. Among all musical forms, the French motet had established itself as the favourite genre among the intellectual classes, especially in Parisian academic and bourgeois circles. The motet, which added new voices to a pre-existing Gregorian melody, opened new paths for experimentation, becoming a vibrant vehicle for exploring new compositional techniques and contrapuntal formulas. However, above all, the motet presented structural support in which it was possible not only to shape new musical currents but also to propose an artistic universe where it was possible to combine the sacred and the profane, the literal and the allegorical, the text and its metatext, through the juxtaposition of different themes and subjects. Solo songs dialogue with love poems, on many occasions with two or three different narrations superimposed in Latin and vernacular languages, creating combinations between reality and metaphor. The addition of new voices and new poems is certainly one of the main characteristics in the genesis of medieval motets, which would explain the origin of the term “motet” as a French derivative of “mot”, word. This concert presents a varied selection of motets composed during the years 1250-1300, interpreted mainly with the unique association of song and the organet, following the medieval use of “intabulation”: on the small organ, the lower voices are played while the singer interprets the top corner. In addition to the motets, Tasto Solo puts on stage other pieces characteristic of Ars Antiqua and early Ars Nova, such as the organum-florido (Gregorian chant organized in broad values ​​and decorated with quick and virtuous ornaments or “flowers”, according to the medieval terminology), Latin sequences, instrumental pieces and extracts from the Ordinarium Missae. Most of these works are related to Marian devotion at its height, during the last centuries of the medieval period. Two main manuscripts were used to prepare the program. On the one hand, the famous and precious Codex Montpellier. , Richly decorated and illuminated, this is a code that, despite its small size, has priceless value, as it contains the most extensive collection of French motets from the 13th century. On the other hand, the famous manuscript Las Huelgas, a compilation of the music used by the nuns and specialist singers of the Monastery of Santa María la Real de Las Huelgas, in Burgos, during the last decades of the 13th century and the beginning of the 14th century.

American soprano ANNE-KATHRYN OLSEN is a versatile vocal artist with a passion for historical music: from the gothic Italian avant-garde to the early folk music of Appalachian America, from Renaissance polyphony to the music of Johann Sebastian Bach. Solo performances have brought her to the Gewandhaus in Leipzig, La Monnaie in Brussels, the Konzerthaus in Vienna, the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam, and the Musikverein in Graz. She is regularly invited to take part in Europe’s most important music festivals such as Festival Oudemusiek Utrecht, Festival Saintes, Resonanzen, the Berliner Festspiele, Innsbrucker Festwochen der Alten Musik, Ravenna Festival, and many others. She has collaborated with Pedro Memelsdorff and Mala Punica, Václav Luks and Collegium 1704, Guillermo Pérez and Tasto Solo, Christina Pluhar and L’Arpeggiata, Gli Angeli Genève, Rene Jacobs and the Freiburger Barockerchester, Doulce Memoire, Sollazzo Ensemble, Ton Koopman & the Amsterdam Baroque Soloists, Helmuth Rilling, the American Bach Soloists in San Francisco, and Björn Schmelzer and graindelavoix, with whom she has recorded many records on the Glossa label. Also a proponent of new music, she presented a solo program at the experimental electronic festival, the Long Now in Berlin and, together with soprano Carine Tinney, she premiered an opera for two voices, female chorus, and electronics by the Scottish experimental composer Jane Dickson for La Monnaie’s interdisciplinary project Orfeo et Majnun in 2018 in Brussels. She has given masterclasses at the Fondation Royaumont and at the Royal Conservatory of Brussels and is passionate about cultivating curiosity and love for medieval and renaissance repertoires in young professionals. 

Born in Barcelona in 1980, GUILLERMO PÉREZ is a conductor, researcher and an internationally recognized organetto player developing an intense career in the field of Early Music. With his ensemble Tasto Solo, he explores since 2006 the late-Medieval and early Renaissance keyboard repertoires. He creates innovative and refined programs, with astonishing sonorities, which the group performs regularly in most part of top European festivals and concerts venues. The two Tasto Solo’s CD, “Meyster ob allen Meystern” (2009) and “Le chant de leschiquier” (2015), have been acclaimed by audiences and the specialized press, receiving a large number of prizes and awards (Diapasons d’Or, 4/4 Classica Magazine, Supersonic-Pizzicato, Grossartig from KulturRadio, Excepcional-Scherzo, Coup de Coeur-France Musique, Dischi del Mese-Amadeus, Excellente-Ritmo…). Guillermo Pérez works also as a member of prestigious ensembles including Mala Punica, Micrologus, J. Savall & Hespèrion XXI, The Unicorn Ensemble, Diabolus in Musica, ClubMediéval, Angélique Mauillon and Viva Biancaluna Biffi, Luca Pianca and Margret Koell. With these groups he made several recordings for Aeon, Alia-Vox, Musica Ficta, Naïve, Passacaille, Pneuma, Raum-Klang, Ricercar and Zig-Zag Territoires labels. Guillermo Pérez is very committed to medieval music and organetto education. Between 2010 and 2013 he organized the “International Cursus of Medieval Music” at the Centre Itinérant de Recherche sur les Musiques Anciennes (CIRMA) directed by Marcel Pérès in Moissac. From 2011 to 2015 he has been a guest teacher at the Centro Studi Europeo di Musica Medievale “Adolfo Broegg” in Spello, Italy. Between 2013 and 2016 he has taught medieval music at Toulouse Le Mirail University. He also lectures and offers workshops at main institutions including Wien, Moscow and Orsay Conservatoires, the Schola Cantorum Basiliensis, the Academia de Órgano Julián de la Orden, The Grieg Academy University of Bergen and the Essen Folkwang Universität der Künste. At present, Guillermo Pérez has joined the Early Music Department of Girona’s Conservatory (Spain) to develop a new project on Ars Nova music. As a soloist with his organetto and leading Tasto Solo he presents new programs with repertoires from the 14th to the early 16th centuries. With the Italian organ maker Walter Chinaglia, he researches and reconstructs medieval and early Renaissance organetti and organ models.

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La Flor en Paradis
Early polyphony & fin’amor

Ad missam

1 - Kyrie / Anonymous, Monasterio de las Huelgas, Códex Las Huelgas
2 - Sanctus / Anonymous, Barcelona, Orfeó Català, MS I

3 - Catholicorum concio / Anonymous, Monasterio de las Huelgas, Códex Las Huelgas

4 - Benedicamus Domino / Anonymous, Firenze Biblioteca Medicea-Laurenzia, MS 29.1


5 - Istampitta / Anonymous, London, British Library, Add. 29987
6 - Flavit auster / Anonymous, Monasterio de las Huelgas, Códex Las Huelgas
7 - In pro / Anonymous, London, British Library, Add. 29987


8 - O Maria Virgo / Anonymous, Monasterio de las Huelgas, Códex Las Huelgas
9 - Danse real / Anonymous, Paris, BnF, Le Manuscrit du Roy
10 - Estampie real / Anonymous, Paris, BnF, Le Manuscrit du Roy
11 - Plus belle que flor / Anonymous, Monasterio de las Huelgas, Códex Las Huelgas
12 - Quand repaire la verdor / Anonymous, Montpellier, Faculté de Medicine, MS H 196
13 - Area Virga / Anonymous, London, British Library, Add. 29987


14 - Casta Catholica / Anonymous, Monasterio de las Huelgas, Códex Las Huelgas
15 - Maria Virgo / Anonymous, Monasterio de las Huelgas, Códex Las Huelgas

TIME: 60’


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