Paolo Pandolfo and Thomas Boysen present concert and master classes at Collection of Musical Instruments

By Susan Thompson, curator

The Italian viola da gamba virtuoso Paolo Pandolfo was joined by the masterful Norwegian lutenist and guitarist Thomas C. Boysen in a concert at the Collection of Musical Instruments on Sunday, 27 February 2011.

Their program, which was entitled La Viole Luthée, featured “musical conversations” in the Renaissance style (an improvised fantasia, an improvisation on a cantus firmus, and an improvisation on a ground) that were followed by music of the French composers Le Sieur St. Colombe (ca. 1640-1700?) and Marin Marais (ca. 1656-1728), both of whom were highly skilled and greatly admired players of the viola da gamba in their day.

According to Pandolfo, the bass viola da gamba was “the instrument of choice for improvisation in the sixteenth century” because, “if mastered in the bravura and sprezzatura styles, [it] could move through all the registers of polyphony… Excellent violists such as Oratio Bassani, Ricardo Rogniono, Girolamo dalla Casa, and Claudio Monteverdi developed an amazing talent for improvising on harmonic grounds, plain chants, and madrigals.”

Shortly after the concert, Pandolfo and Boysen presented separate master classes on their respective instruments. School of Music students in attendance were awed by the pair’s artistry, many observing that their imaginative and introspective powers were exceptional. All marveled at the musicians’ attention to detail and the means through which they were able to explore the tonal parameters of their instruments.

Both Boysen and Pandolfo stressed the importance of utilizing harmonic (as opposed to metric) rhythm when establishing compositional structure and determining linear flow; and both reiterated a fundamental basic to all music making: Every note has a beginning, middle and end, but no two notes need be played the same. MORE

Published March 15, 2011
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La Viole Luthée: viola da gamba virtuoso Paolo Pandolfo performs at Collection Feb. 27

“One of the most brilliant and poetic of the instrument’s current exponents.”
– Gramophone

The Yale Collection of Musical Instruments will present the renowned viola da gamba player Paolo Pandolfo and the Norwegian lutenist Thomas Boysen on Sunday, February 27, 2011 at 3 pm. The program, called La Viole Luthée, features viol-lute conversations from Renaissance improvisations to works by Jean de St. Colombe and Marin Marais. The two composers were both virtuoso viol players; St. Colombe is credited with inventing new left-hand techniques and adding a seventh string to the bass viol. Together, they represent the culmination of the viola da gamba as a solo instrument during the age of Louis XIV.

Pandolfo, one of today’s foremost players of the viola da gamba, returns to the Collection with Boysen, who will play theorbo (a long-necked relative of the lute) and baroque guitar. The duo will open the program with three Renaissance-style improvisations structured on pre-existing forms. Next comes a work from the Panmure Manuscript, a Parisian collection of lute music: St. Colombe’s Prelude and Chaconne in D minor. The first half closes with four pieces (Musette, La Georgienne, Plainte, La Guitarre) by Marin Marais from his Pieces de Viole, Books III and V.

Both composers lived in the same part of Paris, and after Colombe’s death, Marais memorialized him in Le Tombeau pour Monsieur de Sainte-Colombe (published in the second book of his Pièces de Viol). The concert concludes with St. Colombe’s Prélude, Chansonette, and Chaconne in C major, also from the Panmure Manuscript.


Published February 11, 2011
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