Pneuma Ensemble plays 12th and 13th century repertoire as it might have been performed: collaboratively, by a tight-knit group of jongleurs. Their work has been praised by medieval performance scholars, but can also enjoyed by those discovering medieval music for the first time. Pneuma's interpretations range from broodingly meditative to playfully witty, inspired by the diverse repertoire from this time.
As modern people, we encounter bits and pieces of medieval stories recycled in novels, films and video games, but we rarely have the chance to see and hear them in their original form. As with other repertoire, Pneuma performs these influential, neglected works in their original languages with reconstructions of medieval instruments.
Various languages and periods, typically 60-70 min
Pneuma Ensemble performs a wide variety of medieval song in Old Occitan (troubadour), Old French (trouvère), Middle High German (minnesang) Galego-Portuguese, Middle English, Latin, and Italian.
They occasionally add some early polyphony, and, of course, dance music.
Lai de Bisclaveret
Old French / Anglo-Norman, c. 1170, 30 min
One of the 12th century's best-loved voices, Marie de France, and perhaps her most famous tale, featuring a heroic werewolf and music from BL Harley 978 ms.
It is thrilling to hear the sounds of Anglo-Norman.... surtitles are really rendered unnecessary…. A magical visit from a seer from another world. ✭ ✭ ✭ ✭
Stage Door, April 2017
Floris & Blancheflour
Old French beginning, Middle English, c. 1150 / c. 1250, 90 min
One narrator and 18 characters: true lovers lose and find each other in a sweet comic plot that has striking parallels to Mozart's 'Die Entfuhrung aus dem Serail'.
'Floris and Blancheflour was *stunning.* Entrancing to watch, and the feat of memory was just as impressive. The standing ovation was thoroughly, richly deserved.'
The Nun's Priest's Tale
Middle English, c. 1390, 45 min
Chaucer's wildly digressive fabliau of a sly fox and a proud rooster, as narrated by an enthusiastic young priest who flaunts his knowledge, and his astrolabe.
Sometimes presented with two other fox-and-rooster fables: Alcuin's 'Dicta Vocatur Avis' (Latin) and Marie de France's 'Coc e Gupiz' (Anglo-Norman); total 60 min
talks with live music, 60-90 min
Facets of medieval music introduced through lecture-demonstration.
Pneuma has presented previously on these topics:
Four Composers: Hildegard, Bernart de Ventadorn, Nîthart, Machaut
Instrumentarium: Medieval Musical Instruments
Introduction to the Troubadours
Music in the Life and Works of Dante
The Music of the Spheres: Music in Medieval Philosophy
Latin, c. 1150, 80 min
For wayward Latinists, Pneuma offers some guidance on How Not To Behave.
'Babio' features a misbehaving priest who makes endless trouble for himself; a fast-paced, darkly comic work full of slapstick humour and grammar jokes, it may have been created for young clerks-in-training.
'Samson Dux Fortissime' is a sung lament narrated by the biblical hero Samson. Although Samson is a much more impressive figure than Babio, his self-created woman problems are even worse.