On Chaconne - Voices of Eternity, Ensemble Caprice gathers some of the most beautiful chaconnes and passacaglias from the hundreds of composed during the Baroque period. In the chaconne and the passacaglia, repetition of the same harmonic formula allowed for the representation of a notion of time that transcended that of day-to-day experience – in other words, eternity!
As a geometrically variable group, Ensemble Caprice here draws on the talents of seven musicians playing period instruments, who are joined by organist Jean-Willy Kunz, sopranos Dawn Bailey and Jana Miller and mezzo-soprano Maude Brunet. In addition to the instrumental pieces judiciously selected from a vast repertoire, Matthias Maute (conductor and composer) has rearranged certain others for two recorders and bass, including Johann Sebastian Bach's famous Chaconne BWV 1004 for solo violin and Monteverdi's Chi vol che m'innamori (with its closing "Today we are light, and then tomorrow, shadow"). The album also contains hauntingly beautiful 16th-century Czech folksongs. Everything, in a program of heightened feeling, takes us to this indescribable notion of eternity.
As in the Passacalle (1650) and the renowned and emotion-laden Folias by Andrea Falconieri, for example, or Antonio Vivaldi's Sonata La Follia Op. 1, No. 12 (1705), these works refer to an out of the ordinary state of mind, one characterized by unbridled rhythms and harrowing dissonances.
And Ensemble Caprice complement this array of instrumental gems with short vocal pieces composed by Matthias Maute to texts from The Cherubinic Pilgrim, the work of 17th-century mystic poet Angelus Silesius. "These short poems in Alexandrine couplets perfectly express the dichotomy experienced by human beings – between life and death, between this world and another one of invisible dimensions."
Ensemble Caprice, a baroque ensemble which performs on period instruments, was founded by acclaimed conductor, composer and recorder soloist Matthias Maute and has become known for its innovative and adventuresome approach to an increasingly expanding musical repertoire. In addition to its series of concerts in Montreal, the group tours extensively, giving dozens of concerts in Canada, the USA, Europe, and even Asia. The ensemble is a regular gues at many prestigious European festivals: the Lufthansa Festival of Baroque Music in London, the Bruges (Belgium) and Utrecht (Netherlands) festivals, the Felicja Blumenthal International Music Festival in Tel Aviv; and in Germany, the Musikfestspiele Potsdam Sanssouci, the Regensburg Early Music Festival, the Händel-Festspele in Halle, and the Stockstadt festival.
In November 2009, the New York Times published a lengthy article hailing the musicians' innovative and refreshing approach, praising them as "imaginative, and the playing is top-flight". The Ensemble's recording activity is every bit as impressive. Their albums have gained many honours and much critical acclaim. The CD Gloria! Vivaldi and his Angels received a JUNO Award and three prestigious Prix Opus awards.