No, no, I never was in love
Songs with Theorbo (ca. 1650 – 1663)
from manuscripts from the Lambeth Palace Library/London („The songbook of The Lady Ann Blount) and the Bodleian Library/Oxford
Johannes Reichert – Countertenor
Christine Riessner – Theorbo
meta records (2020)
Random reaching for the music sheets on the shelves, joint browsing through the leaves, first musical attempts. What are these empty pages with prepared staves for? Must be a work book of some kind. An exercise book for an aristocratic lady called Lady Ann?
And whoosh! There we were, in the middle of a fantastic project with enormous room for speculation and open questions.
What we have: a book, titled “Songs with Theorbo” or more exactly: two manuscripts, presumably by Charles Colman, combined by editor Gordon J. Callon. In it there are pick’n’mix compositions (again: presumably) by Colman as well as songs by different composers in English, French and Italian. The composers can often not be properly identified.
And so, we as well treated this “songbook” as an “exercise book”, found a selection of pieces that were suitable for us and edited them to our taste. Several night-chats from continent to continent with the editor provided us with additional support for our project.
Whether today or in the 17th century – the continuous theme of all songbooks is love. Especially thwarted love! Cruel rejection, unachievable love, horrid rivals, everything is in there. The musical styles of the songs are extremely diverse and contain everything, from the “folk song” to the aria-like embellished ode or the plain hymn.
The keys were adapted with regard to the best possible sound composition and the plain theorbo accompaniment was imaginatively elaborated so that the deeply moving song texts are wonderfully expressed.
And then the empty manuscript pages. Christine Riessner filled them in her own musical language, the language of a contemporary theorbo player. Thus, the intermezzi for theorbo were created – links and mood changes in a very personal colour between all that wonderful love sickness.
For 350 years these songs have been slumbering unnoticed to be gentle re-awakened now.