Mediva: A Dance To The Music Of Time
2nd October 2013
Once in a while something of a rarity comes to town. Tonight it was a
group of medieval-styled performers showcasing pieces from the 12th -
15th Centuries. it turned out to be an engrossing show.
Internationally acclaimed Mediva play on instruments that do not usually
get much of a collective outing on stage. Ann Allen leads the group on
shawm, recorder and also dances. Emily Askew adds support to the above,
as well as fiddle and bagpipe accompaniment. It fell to Sophie Brumfitt
to provide voice and more dance, while Tim Garside's attenuated array
of struck, rattled or tapped instruments added depth to each composition.
The evening started in pre-Renaissance England where music predominated
and dance was not yet in common currency. By the time of 'The Robertsbridge
Codex' (C14th), it was evolving from out of the monastry and starting
to incorporate ideas brought back from the Crusades.
France, with it's blossoming troubadour traditions, introduced another
element to the mix as people began to be communally entranced by being
able to join in the May Day revels or early Carol dances. 'La Huitime
Estampie (Manuscript du Roi, C13th)' is a good example.
On then to Spain, and the influence of pilgrimages were now added to
the equation. Montserrat and it's Black Madonna was an important destination
and is remembered in the C14th 'Lilibre Vermell de Montserrat' which brought
Moorish elements to be reflected on.
Italy was the showcase of the second half. It was also where Sophie Brumfitt
added her voice and 'Istampitta' became the new vogue across the city
states of the Renaissance period. By now dancers and musicians alike were
adding Arabic influences and collective holding of hands while performing
circular movements or flowing wave-like lines of exuberance were set free
- as demonstrated in the auditorium tonight.
It was only by the C15th that choreographed song, dance and music began
to gel and a single melodic line indicated the direction of polyphonic
development. By the end, a duet replete with full contemporary costume
dresses brought the evening of artistic development to an impressive conclusion.
Translate it if you can, but de Pesaro's 'De practica sev arte tripudii
vulgare oposculum' heralds the transition to today's sexually writhing
pop stars; but no-one on stage can be blamed for that.