Early music specialists Ensemble Leones, directed by founder Marc Lewon, have recorded ‘Colours in the Dark’, an album of instrumental music by Renaissance composer Alexander Agricola. Produced by the Christophorus label, the disc features a number of recorded premieres, including a setting of Le serviteur by Agricola, based on Dufay's famous chanson, and an untitled joint-composition, which Agricola is thought to have written together with Johannes Ghiselin. Also on the album are several chansons which formed the basis of Agricola’s instrumental re-workings, and two new pieces by Gramophone critic Fabrice Fitch, inspired by Agricola and designed for a modern-day audience.
The album also includes the first recorded reconstruction of a 15th-century Italian cetra, the only known metal strung instrument in Europe of that time, and a cornetto, which, despite being widely used throughout the 15th century, is rarely heard in modern period performances.
‘Every single aspect of the work on this new programme — from research and editing, via the choice of pieces, order, and instrumentation, to the stages of rehearsing and finally recording — felt like an intensification when compared to the processes we went through for our preceding Josquin project,’ said Marc Lewon. 'Agricola’s compositions seem as if they were written for our combination of early gambas, late medieval vielles and the advent of the Renaissance violin.’
Ensemble Leones have previously released ‘Les Fantaisies de Josquin’ on Christophorus and an album dedicated to the Medieval Minnesinger Neidhart on Naxos. ‘Colours in the Dark' is due for release on April 8, 2013.
Hear Ensemble Leones perform Agricola’s In meinen Zin on the Gramophone Player below: