Although the recorder is probably known primarily as a baroque instrument amongst the general public, it is rather the 16th century, which should actually be considered the golden age of its history. At that time, single recorders were certainly used in mixed ensembles of instruments, but from numerous sources there is clear evidence, that it was especially the homogeneous recorder consort, or "a whoall noyse of recorders", as some English sources would call it, which enjoyed an unprecedented popularity with both amateurs and professionals. The English Court however, constitutes a special case, since it is the only known establishment, where over a period of no less than ninety years, a group of specialized instrumentalists was officially enrolled as recorder players and members of a standing recorder consort: the Royal Recorders. It is a sad fact that none of the royal instruments seem to have survived. Mezzaluna plays on copies of the most complete group of surviving Renaissance recorders which today are to be found in the Vienna Kunsthistorisches Museum. The individual sizes of the instruments reach from the great bass measuring just under 2 metres to the tiny sopranino at 21 centimetres, representing the great diversity of musical idioms offered by the recorder consort at the beginning of the 16th century.
The Ensemble MEZZALUNA was founded in 2003 as a logical consequence of many years of musicological and organological co-operation between the Belgian recorder player Peter Van Heyghen and the English recorder maker Adrian Brown. Their collaboration reached a climax in 2003, when both were asked to present papers at the International Symposium on the Renaissance Flute and Recorder, organised by the Dutch musicological organisation STIMU. Both considered it a priority to present their ideas through a musical collaboration and thus the idea of Mezzaluna was born. The composition of the ensemble, depending on the programme, typically consists of three to six experienced instrumentalists from Belgium, the Netherlands, France and Austria. Their aim is to interpret polyphonic music composed between ca. 1480 and ca. 1630 using historically documented performance practice. The point of departure for the performance practice of the ensemble is the large set of recorders made by Adrian Brown, which in their conception and construction are as close as possible to various historical examples preserved in different European museums. Mezzaluna made its acclaimed debut in Antwerp at the Laus Polyphoniae Festival in July 2003. Since then they have been twice guest at the Early Music Festival Utrecht and the Musica Antiqua Festival in Bruges. In 2006, they played at the Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna at the official presentation of a new catalogue of its Renaissance recorders. In January 2007 and again in January 2010 they toured the Netherlands in the framework of the Dutch Early Music Network. Between 2007 and 2009, they were one of the artists in residence at the Augustinus Muziekcentrum (AMUZ) concert hall in Antwerp.
Peter Van Heyghen