Performing ‘Early’ Music in the Age of Recordings:

National Styles and Influences in Performance – Then and Now

A conference on the study of performance, past and present, 13-14 October 2014

The 5th

International Early Music Seminar in Tel Aviv

The Israel Conservatory of Music in Tel Aviv

Held in collaboration with the Music Department, University of Haifa, and with the support

of the Israel Musicological Society

Seminar director: Drora Bruck (Israel Conservatory of Music)

Conference convenors: Dr. Alon Schab (University of Haifa), Dr. Uri Golomb (Tel Aviv


Keynote speaker: Rinaldo Alessandrini

The second international conference on Performing ‘Early’ Music in the Age of

Recordings will be held as part of the 5th

Conservatory of Music in Tel Aviv.

The issue of national styles affects the performance of early music in two ways. On the one

hand, there is the issue of national styles at the time of composition – for instance, the

Italian and French styles in the 17th and 18th centuries, and their impact on performance

(including their effect on musical composition and performance in other countries, such as

Germany and England). On the other hand, there is the issue of national performance styles

in the past few decades, both within the early music world (e.g., the so-called Netherlands

School of Baroque performance, or the British collegiate choral tradition) and outside it

(e.g, the Lutheran tradition of Bach performance). The two issues can be related (as in

the debate on whether Italians have an inherent advantage in performing the music of

Monteverdi and Vivaldi); and the issue of composition style “then” can have a profound

impact on performance style “now” (e.g., the debate on the relevance of French inegale in

the performance of Bach’s music).

In general, there is a view that music performance in the age of recordings has become

increasingly uniform, that national schools have been marginalised and even endangered by

the pursuit of technical perfection and the homogenising effect of the recording industry.

Historical performance has been viewed as part of this phenomenon; but it has also been

greeted as a potential – and even actual – resource for preserving or revitalising distinct

national schools.

This year’s “Performing ‘Early’ Music in the Age of Recordings” conference aims to explore

topics arising from these and related issues.


Proposals should be submitted by 20 June, 2014.

The programme committee encourages submissions within the following areas, although

other topics are also welcome:

1. The relationship between national composition styles and performance conventions

2. The relationship between local folklore and performance conventions

3. Performance schools within the Early Music Movement

4. Globalization and the Early Music Movement

5. Traditional vs. Historically Informed – mutual influences

Each proposal should contain:

1. Name and institutional affiliation

2. Title of proposed paper

3. An abstract (up to 400 words)

4. Short CV (up to 150 words)

5. Contact details

The conference will be held in English.

To submit proposals, and for further information, please write to:

Please include the word “conference” in the subject heading

Delegates to the concert will be welcome to attend a recital by Rinaldo Alessandrini

on October 11 (two days prior to the conference) and to attend master classes

given in the context of the International Early Music Seminar (Tel Aviv, October

9-16; Rinaldo

Alessandrini’s keynote on October 13 will be followed by a concert by the Romanian

ensemble Flauto Dolce.


Read about Israeli composer Eyal Bat’s piece for rec. & piano, recently published and listen to a live performance of it.

G. Ph. Telemann – sonata in D minor (Re Minor) for recorder and BC

In the last month I found myself teaching this recorder sonata twice to two different students, and playing it ,yself in a recital after a long time we (it and me) have been out of touch.

If you know this sonata, you shall probably agree with me that it certainly IS one of the masterpieces for recorder.

What makes this sonata so special?

I can make a list which would be rather long….the surprising beginning of the b flat (si bemol) over the c sharp (do #) in the bass – giving us this remarkably strong chord c#egb bemol, dictating a beginning of both instability and pain. the little phrases of the treble, creating, moreover, a feeling of breathlessness, of drama, of almost a to happen, or one that had happened already, the surprising melodic leaps, the fantiastically colorful chord…all these make this movement one of the most beautiful ever composed for recorder.

Then comes the Allegro – seemingly simpler – streaming on until the powerful unisono at the end of each half of it – showing us still how troubled we are….reaching out to the unorthodox Grave, in 2 parts, one agonizing, contemplating, the other continuing – because life goes on…to the gigue.

I do not know if that is THE interpretation…i do know that in each piece of music we play, we have to find our holy trinity..which will always be the middle points of three: the piece, the instrument, and us. We have to find a narrative that allows us to feel with all our senses, to which we can connect in many was – and then go on pour it into the music – and then, only then, will we be able to produce a true perfromace, and whatis true – is always good.

You who Dwell in the Gardens

Listen to this piece, while you read about it:

Eyal speaks:

“You who Dwell in the Gardens” is a piece of spiritual longing.

My encounter with Drora Bruck inspired me to cast this longing into composing for an instrument that until then was a mystery to me – the recorder.    Drora’s playing which has both a lot of conviction and a lot of love, significantly influenced the formation of  the backdrop for the composition of the piece.

During our encounters Drora performed for me on all types of recorders and played CDs with a rich selection of recorder repertoire from the Middle Ages to this day. Slowly I became aware of the fact that I have been offered a gateway into a rich and fascinating world with roots going back as far as ancient days of magic spells and witch-craft.

It was only natural that Drora’s intimate and introverted playing, along with the subtle spark of her virtuosity found a path into my heart when I came to express in music the lover’s longing words to the mystical beloved lady of the Song of Songs.

For the musical language I chose the model of a single movement romantic piece written in free style and making use of transparent textures. I would like to note two musical influences that made essential contribution to the timbre of this piece: The first is Celtic music, where the recorder plays a significant and highly respected role. The freedom and large expanses of the piece are influenced by this direction. The second influence is east-European cantor music. Something in the longing and melancholy of that music found its way into this piece. I hope you will like it.

Drora speaks:

On the birth of the piece:

I first met Eyal Bat more than ten years ago. I attended the birthday of a friend, the clarinet player Noga Ben Azar, along with many other musicians, who did what musician usually do at parties – played music. At the piano sat a guy who played Beatles songs. He started playing “The Fool on the Hill” and when he asked: “Does anyone here have a recorder?” someone found for me a faded red plastic reorder with an old sound. After that song we continued with other Beatles songs.

I have heard of Eyal before, but it was only after we were done playing that we introduced ourselves, and from that moment on it was clear to us that we should make music together. The next meeting took place at my place in Tel Aviv, and we came up with the idea of selecting verses from the Song of Songs and composing music inspired by those verses. Then we sat down, with a Bible for each, and having selected verses we particularly liked, we were surprised to discover that we both selected “You who dwell in the gardens, companions are listening to your voice, let me hear it.” from ch. 8.

When Eyal invited me over after awhile to hear the first drafts I was delighted. Every time anew where a piece is created that I am part of, when something of me influenced its inception, I get excited like a little girl, perhaps because as a performing musician, the thing I create disappears almost an instant after it happens, and a piece written for me, inspired by me, is my only way to go on being after I have finished playing, and to be in it even before I started.

When I first heard “You who Dwell in the Gardens”  – I fell in love. I was not yet sure then with what, I only felt the melody wrapping itself into my heart and caressing my soul. The premiere was performed in a memorial recital held in memory of the pianist Sara Fuxon-Heiman, who dedicated most of her working life to Israeli Music. On that evening, on October 1999 in Einav Center on the roof of Gan-Ha-Ir, Tel Aviv, Eyal himself accompanied my on the piano.

Over the decade that has passed since I performed the pieces in concerts, recorded it, and taught students who studied it. I freed that it grew next to me and flourished inside me, and I grew with it. Its complexity is intertwined with the fiber of my being and I grow with it and alongside it, and perhaps only now I truly understand it.

A few points to consider before performing it: For me this piece represents a process of self growth, a passage between different periods within the circle of life, while taking a journey of self discovery. With the opening D on the piano the player should illustrate the development that takes place throughout the piece. That is why it is important to know the entire piece and take it in before any decisions are made about any interpretation. The Phrygian mode and melody’s flexibility set the general mood for the piece and one should let the players’ intuitions lead them into a deeper understanding of the piece, not unlike the kind of understanding and acceptance that comes from a long running acquaintance of a close friend. The melody that appears in the first measures in the piano part, played by the right hand, then passes to the left hand, and now it is already familiar to us, and just as one can’t cross the same river twice, here in this second encounter, the melody takes on a new meaning: its texture is expanded by the number of notes sounding the melody, and furthermore our feeling changes by virtue of our earlier acquaintance. When the recorder enters it allows itself to ornament and celebrate around the melody, like a young girl celebrating the spring of her youth. When she is done ( C ), the piano takes her in, back into the somewhat mundane reality she’s trying to escape, takes her back to where she is supposed to be, to the serenity of the old and familiar, but she ( D ) colors reality with the rejoicing of youth. Her awareness is heightened, however she is still herself, still with the full intensity of her emotions. With maturity ( E ), comes a more sober outlook, and with them come peace and quiet and parting, with consent, from the previous movement.

Now something happens, with another sound, a different timbre, a different tension, until the renewed encounter with ourselves, with our first melody and with the old-new reality. In this reality we are something of strangers within our own bodies and withing the labyrinth of our souls. From this storm we return to the same ornaments, the same uniqueness, the same attempts to find ourselves anew until we find some consensus – both with ourselves and with reality.

This is of course the personal way I experience this piece, and obviously the interpretation is different for each performer, however, the qualities of “You who Dwell in the Gardens” and its beauty stem, in my opinion, from its affinity to some cosmic inner truth, the kind that each and every one of us can find themselves in after an exploration process – like every good piece of art.

Hoping that you will never stop to seek out and explore, that you will transform the exploration outside yourselves to an exploration within, and during the journey you will discover the unexpected beauty, the one that one cannot prepare to, that which is deep inside you and let yourselves be a little surprised.

Listen to the performance of this piece by myself on the recorder, and piano player Marina Minkin, recorded live in 2006, in the Jerusalem Theatre.

\”Hayoshevet Baganim\” by Eyal Bat

This article was kindly translated into English by Uri Bruck.





The solo sonatas of G. P. Cima were always close to my heart and my ears, since the frst time I had played them, over 15 years ago.

For years I have always picked these two sonatas as the first seicento sonatas to teach my students who wished to dive into the seicento repertoire, alongside the little more convetional 5 Frescobaldi Canzonas.

One can learn a little about Cima’s life in this article:

In their book “Italian violin music of the 17th century”, Thomas Binkley and Willi Apel write that he had worked in Milano since 1610, but had published his first collection of pieces in 1599.

The 2 sonatas were published in 1610.

You are invited to listen to the first sonata in an unfortunately unidentified recording:

I warmly recommend all of you to seek out and play these sonatas. Both are gems that sound brilliant on the recorder.

Dear readers,

As I have set aside some weekly time to update my blog, I would like to tell you a little bit what you will be finding here:

A special section about Recorder Repertoire – original and borrowed…in which I shall share with you my ideas about the music, and try to include links to hear the pieces, and to look at the music.

Besides that I shall be writing about teaching, methods, insights, and try to publish both in English and in Hebrew.

If you have issues you would like me to deal with, about recorders, early music or any othe rmatters…please write to me, I shall try to respond.

I know this heading for a blog entry seems a little fancy, and maybe somewhat  pretentious…but coming home after teaching quite a few hours everyday, to different people, in different manners, I remain, still and always in awe, when i see the impact good music has on people.

Being a recorder teacher and player I have the chance to work with very young children at a very basic stage. Usually I get this fantastic opportunity to make, with them, their first steps in this fascinating world, walking hand in hand with them on this new road leading to infinity.

We live in a strange world today – in which everything comes fast and goes away fast. Our food cooks within seconds, we get to places kilometers away from our house in a very short time (ok, not at rush hour), we move from one activity to the other in no time, we drown in information that is thrown at us from every direction…and life is becoming quick and in a way worthless..since everything comes and goes.  And if everything is of such short value – maybe us too?

So, when we teach music, we allow little children to meet a world which has it’s own time – because music is an art form which relys upon time, needs time, is coherent only if you listen and allow the piece to unfold infront of you…one cannot hasten music – one cannot look quickly at the last page to know what was the conclusion…music is not about the ending – music is about the process…

I find myself playing for these internet oriented children, little people who were born into this world of instanity – or, if I may, insanity – and I see how every muscle in their body relaxes, how their eyes are fixed upon me, and their ears seek the next sound…

I cannot help feeling that music, and complex music, the one that operates the senses, the passions and the brain, reunites us, reunites them with what this fast world makes us yearn for – stability, solidity, lastingness, balance…

so, studying music is crucial for our inner need of feeling that something out there is worth waiting for – and giving time to – and if there is, maybe it is us?

Recorder players do have some issues with Bach…all thi smagnificent musi – and where are the recorder sonatas? suites?

So, before I go into listing which transcribed pieces sound good on the recorder – I searched Bac’s repertoire to find where he actually ask for recorders:

In the Magnificat, in it’s first version from 1723, there are 2 alto recorders in the movement called: ESURIENTES IMPLEVIT BONIS – accompanyng an alto singer together, above a continuo in organ.

Amsterdam Baroque orchestra – 2:17 starts the Esurientes


Bach often associates the recorder with death and the un ncatural…as in cantata 106 :

Here by the Amsterdam Baroque Orchestra directed by Ton Koopman:




In cantata 161 in the aria “Komm Du Susse Todesstunde” (Come thou sweet death’s hour)
We can hear the singer accompanied by the 2 recorders to his death:

Simon Crouch wrote the following:
The theme of death being a welcome release from the travails of this earth is a common one in the cantatas and this solo work for alto is a lovely example of Bach illustrating this with style and with beauty.

The gentle theme of the opening aria is introduced by a pair of recorders (which will feature frequently later on) and is soon taken up by the alto. A notable feature of this movement is that from time to time the organ enters playing the melody of the Passion Chorale (Herzlich tut mich verlangen, by Hassler) in the treble, almost as a decoration of the main theme. What’s it doing here? Well, the words of that hymn are a prayer of peaceful departure that complement the words of this aria perfectly. The congregation of Bach’s time would have known that hymn well and would have immediately realised the significance of the tune. Following a heartfelt recitative, the next aria is possibly more notable for its grief stricken accompaniment (on the strings) than for the alto melody, it maintains the affekt effectively.

Only occasionally do I comment much on Bach’s recitatives. They are almost invariably skilful, perhaps routine once in a while, but next we have a fine example, where the music so wonderfully complements the message. For example, the soul sinking to rest to a descending scale, the ticking of clock to the words strike the hour when I may rest in peace. It may sound corny described in words, but it’s done so skilfully and tastefully! The following chorus is a lovely, delicate filigree of a thing with the recorders providing the final twist of decoration. Please, never let sopranos with wobbly voices near this one. Please. The tune of Hassler’s hymn returns for the final chorale. The recorders perform their final dance up in the clouds. Are they the soul, perhaps?

There are few better examples of Bach’s craft and inspiration working hand in hand. Although this cantata doesn’t leap out and grab you immediately, if you listen carefully to it and study it, you will have a thing of beauty for ever.

Copyright © Simon Crouch, 1996, 1997

Then there are scenes like in cantata 208, maybe one of the most famous arias which include recorders, in which the sheep may safely graze…


The Brandenburg concertos are without a doubt some of the grandest concertos in their genere (concerto grosso).

Out of the 6 concertos, recorder is featured in 2:

the second concerto groups in the ‘concertino’ group 4 instruments: recorder, oboe, trumpet and violin.

Listen to the Amsterdam Baroque Orchestra



Title on autograph score: Concerto 2do à 1 Tromba, 1 Fiauto, 1 Hautbois, 1 Violino concertati, è 2 Violini, 1 Viola è Violone in Ripieno col Violoncello è Basso per il Cembalo.[1]

  1. Allegro
  2. Andante
  3. Allegro assai

Concertino: trumpet in F, recorder, oboe, violin

Ripieno: two violins, viola, violone, and basso continuo (including harpsichord).

This piece was almost certainly written with the court trumpeter in Cöthen, Johann Ludwig Schreiber, in mind.[6] The trumpet part is still considered one of the most difficult in the entire repertoire, played on either the natural or the modern valved trumpet.

The trumpet does not play in the second movement, as is common practice in baroque era concerti due to the construction of the natural trumpet, which allows it to play only in one key. Because concerti often move to a different key in the second movement, concerti that include a trumpet in their first movement and are from the period before the valved trumpet was commonly used, exclude the trumpet from the second movement.

This piece was also chosen as the first to be played on the “golden record”, a phonograph record containing a broad sample of Earth’s common sounds, languages, and music sent into outer space with the two Voyager probes.

In the 4th Brandenburg the main soloist is the violin, accompanied by 2 alto recorders in the concertino group and the entire orchestra.

Here listen to the Freiburg orchestra:


Title on autograph score: Concerto 4ta à Violino Principale, due Fiauti d’Echo, due Violini, una Viola è Violone in Ripieno, Violoncello è Continuo.[1]

  1. Allegro
  2. Andante
  3. Presto

Concertino: violin and two recorders

Ripieno: two violins, viola, cello, violone and basso continuo

The violin part in this concerto is extremely virtuosic in the first and third movements. In the second movement, the violin provides a bass when the concertino group plays unaccompanied.

Bach adapted the 4th Brandenburg concerto as the last of his set of 6 harpsichord concertos, the concerto for harpsichord, two recorders and strings in F major, BWV 1057. As well as taking on most of the solo violin’s role, the harpsichord also takes over some of the recorders’ parts in the andante, plays a basso continuo role at times and occasionally adds a fourth contrapuntal part to an originally three-part texture (something which Bach occasionally did while improvising). The harpsichord concerto is thus more than a mere transcription.

Here is it’s first movement performed by the English concert, conducted by Trevor Pinnock. Recorder players are not specified, but I am quite sure one of them is Philip Pickett: