ESTAMPIE once again walk in the footsteps of the past, in more ways than one. On the one hand the ensemble is – naturally – concerned with a specific period of medieval history, namely Sicily’s multicultural era of the 12th and 13th century.
On the other hand, after an excursion into rather folk-oriented traditional Scandinavian music, ESTAMPIE have returned to their main focus: pure medieval music, intelligently and imaginatively written and arranged, in combination with oriental sounds.
For this purpose, two tried and tested colleagues from Morocco have joined the group: the excellent kanun and oud player Aziz Samsaoui and the fantastic vocalist Iman Kandoussi. Fans of Estampie’s music are already familiar with both artists from our AL ANDALUZ PROJECT.
This mélange of minnesang melodies, troubadour music, popular-language Sicilian tunes and Arabian sounds promise musical enjoyment at its best for the new CD, which is scheduled for release in 2015, and the upcoming concerts.
Emperor Friedrich II of the Hohenstaufen (or Staufer) dynasty was probably one of the most enigmatic, successful and remarkable rulers in German history. Referred to as stupor mundi, the wonder of the world, by a contemporary chronicler, he continues to fascinate many people, some of whom even wish that today’s governments featured some of his distinctive and unusual qualities.
Strong-minded, assertive, “modern” in that he promoted natural sciences and indeed himself pursued some research in that field, an avid patron of the arts, tolerant and cosmopolitan, is how Friedrich II is described by historical sources. Speaking various languages – but, curiously, only a little German – he loved above all Arabian poetry which had been at its zenith in his home country of Sicily up to around two centuries before his time.
Provençal troubadours and German minnesingers were permanent guests at his court and accompanied him on his numerous journeys. Friedrich’s multicultural outlook, his blending of different cultures is particularly interesting to us and has inspired us together with Arabian musicians to devise a programme which echoes music as it may have been performed at the court of the great Staufer king.
In this music, poetry by the famous Arabian poets of the 9th and 10th century is combined with medieval Arabian and Maghrebian music, a method (setting poetry to music) which is still common practice in Arabian countries. In addition, it is associated with the famous melodies of Raimbaut de Vaqueiras, Walther von der Vogelweide and many others.
A third component of this programme is based on the fact that Friedrich also supported popular Italian speech and great works were created in this domain during his lifetime: elaborate sonnets as well as spiritual and folksong-like music.
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