With the participation of: Irene Klein
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 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