Steeped in history
Without a doubt, in the official era of the lute, the 17th and 18th centuries, an enormous number of excellent lute songs were created. Then why look further afield? For a number of reasons.
Early into his career as a lute player, Michiel Niessen realised he had found the instrument he loved to play, but did not want to be restricted to only the official repertoire for the lute.
An avid listener to music of many styles, including jazz, pop and contemporary classical, he heard many songs that he thought would go very well on the lute. Collecting these songs over the years, the portfolio grew and turned into ‘Songs Contained’.
Et in sæcula sæculorum
It became clear to me very early on that precisely the juxtaposition of old and recent lute songs adds an extra dimension to both. It is astonishing to see that the songs really haven't changed much over 400 years: they are still about the same subjects, they often follow the same form rules and employ the same emotional tactics.
The known reveals the related unknown.
Who wouldn’t like to be a fly on the wall when Henry Purcell and Duke Ellington meet? Or Tom Waits and John Dowland?
In ‘Songs Contained’ we get to be that fly on the wall!
It’s the Baroque touch
In Early Music it’s all about the words, it’s all about eloquence and text expression.
As a full-blown professional early music specialist, Michiel Niessen is steeped in the techniques needed to make songs work and lyrics speak, an art that was lost somewhere during the height of classical music, but that was rediscovered, more or less simultaneousy, by both the early music movement and the contemporary styles like jazz, pop and rock.
The realisation that these styles are not worlds apart gave the first inspiration to design the ‘Songs Contained’ programme.