The violin was perhaps the most popular instrument of the 17th century. It turns up in nearly every Baroque instrumental genre, including the solo sonata, the concerto, and the immensely popular trio sonata (for two violins, often complimented by harpsichord, organ, or theorbo). Much less common, but equally compelling, are pieces for three violins with some sort of plucked or strummed accompaniment.
The Ensalada (musical salad) is a poetical work which combines lines in different languages, as well as instrumental sonatas. It is rooted in the medieval practice of singing different texts simultaneously, and incorporates well-known romances and madrigalist elements. Generally based on stories from Christ birth, ensaladas a big portrait, a la Janequin, occupying a midway position between art and folk music.
…The Burwell lute tutor states: "[On] other instruments we sing, but on the lute we speak". That is exactly what Bailes does, and in a very eloquent manner.
This stylishly devised programme juxtaposes cantatas by Rosenmüller, Krieger and Buxtehude with instrumental chorales and sonatas by Scheidemann, Praetorius, Tunder and Weckmann; most of these now known, if at all widely, as forerunners to Bach rather than as fine musicians in their own right as they deserve to be. During the 17th and 18th centuries, Hamburg became a leading commercial port where material and cultural goods circulated freely. Ensemble Méridien has chosen this city as the focal point of a fascinating musical journey through northern Germany, a journey that reveals different aspects of this artistic power. The port of Hamburg was also the driving force behind the north German organ school of the time. Churches were overflowing with magnificent organs, and their building and playing techniques reached extremely high standards, as is evident from the organ music included here. Though most of the music in this recital has been recorded before, it has only appeared on relatively obscure labels, and not in this imaginative context where one may more fully appreciate its dramatic as well as musical merits.