All songs on this recording come from the Koning Manuscript, which is presently kept in the Royal Library of Brussels (ms II 270). It is a two-part manuscript, the songbook portion of which was compiled around 1500; in addition to the 29 polyphonic songs, it contains the verse text for an antiphon, songs without musical notation and spiritual poetry in Latin and Middle Dutch, and has been enriched with a number of illustrations. Whoever compiled the Koning Maunscript made a Songbook for the Dutch urban society, which has earned a place within the European tradition. The late medieval faithful often submitted themselves to feelings of self-chastisement and the longing for death. The songs on this CD show the macabre side of the Koning Manuscript. The instrumental pieces on this CD are all arrangements of the songs written in a 15th Century style.
Aventure, under the direction of Ita Hijmans specializes in (late) Medieval music. The ensemble lends its name from the courtly concept of story, adventure and experience; and refers therefore to the non-written culture of the Middle Ages. Continuously examining the scope of this non-written legacy is the challenge for Aventure in its musical performance practice. Since its conception in 1992, Aventure has produced varied programs with differing performers on the national and international podia.
After beginning with the story-telling tradition of the monophonic music around Oswald van Wolkenstein (CD: O, snode welt), the Latin conductus, lai and estampie, the unknown songs of Adam de la Halle followed programs of early polyphony from the Montpelier Codex and Bamberg, among others. Fifteenth-Century songbooks are the new focus for Aventure, and research into the unwritten role of instrumentalists, especially that of the recorder consort in the last decades of the 15th Century. Through extensive research into the many aspects of performance: improvisation techniques, pronunciation, musical idioms and historical context, Aventure wishes to create a living sound impression of an otherwise forgotten time.