Musicke & Mirth
was founded by Irene Klein and Jane Achtman during the summer of 1997. The aim was to explore the unique and entertaining music for two viols. While not excluding the traditional and better-known French repertoire, the focus is on less known works, such as music for two lyra viols and the late German Galant style. Further musicians are added to the core group of two players when the repertoire requires it.
The musicians perform on period instruments and from original scores, paying great attention to historical performance practice. The winning combination of authenticity paired with a unique performing flair has made the ensemble successful both in concert halls and at competitions. Musicke & Mirth won the third prize in the American Dorian/EMA Recording Competition in 1997, the second prize in the Premio Bonporti in Rovereto, Italy in 1998 and the second prize at the Van Wassenaer Concours in The Hague in 2000.
Since its formation the ensemble has developed various programs in different constellations and has traveled throughout Europe for concerts. In 2005 it played at the Festival Concentus Moraviae in the Czech Republic and in 2007 it was invited to perform for the WDR3 Funkhauskonzerte in Cologne. The ensemble often participates as a duo in large productions, such as an opera version of J. S. Bach’s “Actus Tragicus” with the conductor Michael Hofstetter, which was performed in Basel (2000 and 2001) and in Stuttgart (2006–2008).
In 2006, the viol consort Musicke & Mirth accompanied the Collegium Vocale Gent for a European tour of Dieterich Buxtehude ́s “Membra Jesu Nostri”. In 2009 the Swiss Radio DRS2 produced a documentation of the ensembles musical career to date. In 2014/2015 the ensemble is touring Germany and Switzerland with a consort program of dances and madrigals by the forgotten composer Balthasar Fritsch, joined by the soprano Ulrike Hofbauer.
Musicke & Mirth recorded its first CD ("Musicke & Mirth - Music for two Lyra Viols” published 2001 with Raumklang) during the summer of 1999. Its second CD ("Die Spinne im Netz” - The Spider in the Web, published 2004 with Raumklang) is a compilation of music found in Nuremberg music prints. A third CD, “Feuer und Bravour” with Galant German music from the Berlin court, was published with the label Ramée in 2008 and received a Diapason Découverte immediately. The newest CD, “Division-Musick”, was published in 2012 and presents the virtuosic tradition of diminution in England in the 17th century.