Cantar alla Viola
Event 4
Sunday 7th October, 3:00pm 
Little Missenden Church

'Fortuna desperata'
Italian & German Renaissance music
Ich komm aus fremden Landen
Johann Walter
Von Himmel hoch, da komm ich her
All Morgen ist ganz frisch und neu
Sylvestro Ganassi
Ricercar primo
Ricercar secundo
Georg Forster
Erweckt hat mir das Herz
Heinrich Isaac
Süsser Vater
All mein Mut
Fortuna desperata
Buxheimer Orgelbuch
Eia ergo
Luca Marenzio
Amor tien il suo regno
Ahime che col fuggire
Alma che fai
Dicemi la mia stella
Le rose fronde e fiori
Costanzo Festa
Se mai vedet’ amanti
Madonn’io mi consumo et
pel grave dolor
Altro non e’il mi’ amor
Fortuna desperata

This is an archived event from the 2018 Programme.

 Nadine Balbeisi soprano  Fernando Marín vihuela de arco

©Yolanda Diaz


Cantar alla Viola delighted our audience in 2012, so we’re pleased to be able to present them again.

The group’s name comes from an almost lost musical technique which was very popular in the 16th century, particularly in Golden Age Spain. Vocal music was often written for a number of voice parts. Cantare alla viola (singing with the viol) made it possible to perform these works with one singer on the top line and a single stringed instrument supplying the other parts, using a special bow technique to sustain the harmonies and blend with the human voice. Various instruments were used in different countries, in Spain mainly the vihuela de arco, which Fernando plays here.

Nadine and Fernando resurrected this beautiful but neglected tradition themselves with painstaking research and reconstruction of instruments and bows.

This entrancing programme mixes German and Italian music from the 15th and 16th centuries. It moves between a light and lively villanelle by Luca Marenzio; transcendent madrigals by Costanzo Festa; and secular works by Heinrich Isaac, hugely influential later in Germany. A highlight is an anonymous madrigal, Fortuna desperata - a chart-topper in 15th century Europe, found in at least 36 versions by Italian, Franco-Flemish and German composers (including Isaac, whose setting we hear this afternoon). Many of the composers are little-known today, but their music sounds hauntingly beautiful in the hands of Nadine and Fernando.

The art of accompanying the voice with the viola da gamba

Cantar alla Viola have performed internationally, and twice been early music finalists in the Antwerp International Young Artist’s Presentation.

“Balbeisi’s effortlessly flowing natural voice with warm shimmering height and whispering pianos explored mystical lines…It is astounding how much emotion and beauty can be found in such a simple instrument, which imitates the human voice…The wings of the hearts of listeners were opened” Astrid Schoene, Rheinische Post

“Precious, exquisite pearls” Gerhard Kollmer, Giessener Allgemeine Zeitung

The lithe and distinctive voice of American/Jordanian soprano Nadine Balbeisi blends perfectly with the sound of the vihuela. Her repertoire covers the 14th to 18th centuries. She became an ‘Artist in Residence’ in Spain, researching and performing 16th century polyphony from the archives of Huesca Cathedral. She won a scholarship in 2011 to participate and perform in the ‘Lied Course’ at the Franz Schubert Institute.

A Spaniard from Alicante, Fernando Marín studied in European conservatories at Oviedo, Prague, Cologne and Brussels, Wieland Kuijken among his teachers. He specialises in instruments from the 14th to the 16th centuries, researching their origins, performance practice and repertoire. He has written on musical rhetoric and improvisation, and teaches gamba at the Zaragoza Conservatorio.


Concert supported by the Friends of the Festival