Ensemble ‘Per Far Lieto’ Revisited



Months ago I wrote about my excitement over Per Far Lieto, the organetto and percussion duo which specializes in medieval music. I was, and remain, enthusiastic about the ensemble because of their approach, something I couldn’t quite articulate then, but think is now possible.

Individually, each musician defies expectation.

Percussionist David Kuckhermann is no simple time keeper (as is the case with a lot of percussion heard in early music). His pulse is perfectly steady, yes, but the sounds he draws out the frame drum are varied, subtle, and imbued with color. I especially appreciate how he shifts rhythms to support the phrase of the melody. His middle-eastern approach is not without precedent in medieval music, yet his mastery is something special.

Catalina Vicens plays the organetto in a way I’ve never really heard. The instrument could easily come off across as benign and wooden, but she makes it sing. Her phrases shape and breathe in a vocal way. I suspect it has something to with the subtle way she manipulates the bellows. As is the case in listening to many fine keyboardists, I am aware of the music and not the technical demands.

Here’s a track from their ‘demo’ recording to show you what I mean. Listen to it a couple of times and keep in mind what I said about them individually. Then listen without focusing on anything in particular, just take everything in. You’ll begin to understand how a great ensemble works and what I listen for in all groups.

Anonymous: Isabella

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But I can’t mention ‘Per Far Lieto’ without showing you the video that started it all (“Per non far lieto” – Gherardello da Firenze):

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