Ensemble all'improvviso

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Fluent in the musical styles of the past,

at ease with its musical idioms,

the musicians of Ensemble all'improvviso,

masters at reacting spontaneously to each other,

are dedicated to actively (re)creating early music.

The Ensemble performs in the following constellations:

Ensemble all'improvviso Ensemble all'improvviso

Martin Erhardt, recorder

Michael Spiecker, baroque violin

Christoph Sommer, lute

Miyoko Ito, gamba

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Photos: Isabel Moreton

Ensemble all'improvviso

with dancers auch as Mareike Greb, Jutta Vo

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Photo: Markus Brosig

Programme example

Programmbeispiel Basse danse

Martin Erhardt und Miyoko Ito

Duo Martin Erhardt - Miyoko Ito

viola da gamba, harpsichord, recorders, fiddle, portative organ

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duo-erhardt-ito-01.jpg Photo: Martin Erhardt

Programme example

Programmbeispiel Duo Martin Erhardt - Miyoko Ito

New CD:

Quinta Vox

Martin Erhardt - Nora Thiele

recorders, percussion instruments, framedrums, portative organ, pipe&tabor, carillon, voice

Duo Martin Erhardt - Nora Thiele

Martin Erhardt and Nora Thiele have been making music together since 2005. So far, they have specialized in 14th century Italian and French repertory: rousing Istampitte, original or self-composed, tortuous diminutions such as those from the Codex Faenza, subtle Ballads and Madrigals by Machaut, Landini and their contemporaries.

The two musicians are fascinated in particular by oral performance practice in western medieval music and its striking parallels with non-European living traditions.

The various instruments they perform on consist of copies from preserved original instruments, such as the so-called Dordrecht recorder (before 1418, see picture below) and reconstructions made after 14th century iconographic material.

die sog. Dordrecht-Blockflöte

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duo-erhardt-thiele-01.jpg Photo: Antje Seeger

Programme example

Programme example Duo Martin Erhardt - Nora Thiele


Ensemble all'improvviso

... more ensemble members

Michael Spiecker, baroque violin

Christoph Sommer, lute

Anna Kellnhofer, voice

Maurice van Lieshout, recorder

Programme example

Programme example Basse danse

Latin, today, is a dead language. We learn to read and translate Latin texts, but not how to communicate orally in Latin. Of course, there are still a few nerds who practice this nonetheless, but they're just a few cases.

It is evident, however, that musicians in the past centuries improvised a lot - they were capable to express themselves in their musical language spontaneously, freely and individually, they felt at home there like a fish in the water. So if early music is to be brought back to life today, it's not enough just to perform the repertoire from the score ("reading out"): No, you must also be able to express yourself freely in the language of early music.

Our improvised concerts and jam sessions reach a degree of vividness that no CD is able to reproduce. The ephemeral and unrepeatable aspects of live improvisation are a feast for the audience's ears and eyes. It is a stimulating experience for the audience to watch the creation process taking place in front of them, and to be able to follow the musicians' ideas and thoughts as they develop. For us, a melody coming into being in real-time holds a potential of great value, made possible by the oneness of composer and performer. The whole musical experience of the improviser as well as his individual character come into light when improvising.

But how is it possible today to improvise in the same style than musicians did in the Middle Ages, Renaissance and Baroque period, since the microphone was not yet invented? Luckily, improvisation was so enormously appreciated in those days that a lot of music was written down in a style that resembles improvisation. Luckily also, quite a remarkable amount of treatises from the time describing techniques of improvisation have been preserved. But in fact, we regard the preserved repertoire as the peak of the iceberg, and from this visible part, we can make speculations and draw conclusions about what was lost.

Generally speaking, improvisation for us is not a means unto itself, but serves as a tool to bring Early Music back to life.

Admittedly, the comparison with the Latin language is poor: Our music has the crucial advantage that it's understood by the audience immediately!

JamSession in Weimar
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