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HIP hip
March 2011

"If I have seen further than others,
it is by standing upon the shoulders of giants."

Isaac Newton

Welcome and thank you for all the kind comments about last month’s performance, which featured another of De Swaen’s many "firsts": You would not have heard the Telemann Konzert (TWV51:D7) played on a "real" natural trumpet before then, neither "live" nor recorded, and your enthusiastic reception is justification enough for our ever-developing approach to Historically Informed/Inspired Performance (HIP) - that we need not compromise our instruments in order to delight an audience. Quite the opposite! After all, if you wanted to listen to modern machines, you could stay at home!

Ironically, although what we do is rarely heard today, there’s nothing new about what De Swaen does and we, in turn, are standing on the shoulders of giants by continuing the direction of Early Music’s pioneers; or rather their direction before a commercial boom saw the introduction of "pick-up-and-play" alterations to instruments, some of which remain standard today.

Piet Dhont, who chose today’s programme, is one such pioneer. In his time, Piet has played with "everyone". He has also researched and measured original instruments in museums all over Europe and handcrafted their replicas. Piet introduced the historical practices of single staples and inner-scraped reeds to De Swaen, and brought with him an experience and knowledge that can only be gained from over 40 years "on the job".

Special mention must be made of our gambists today: Annette and Hans have travelled from Berlin for this project and it’s an honour to have them here. In addition to playing viols and flutes, Hans is a highly regarded maker of replica historical bows. (You will often see Hans’s creations played in our ensemble; today, we have eleven). Annette, another esteemed pioneer, literally "wrote the book", or rather "a lot of" books and articles, along with giving lectures and performing regularly. (www.bows-viols.de)

Annette and Hans are playing six-string viols (as opposed to the more commonly-heard, seven-string "French" ones), with a similar all-unwound gut, equal-tension set-up to the violins and viola, bringing a natural balance and blend to the ensemble. We hope you notice the difference! We also hope you appreciate that we rely on your financial support to fund our influential work. Please donate as generously as you can afford to after the concert. The recommended minimum donation is 10 Euros. Thank you.

Mike Diprose March 2011