Songs and Sighs of the Renaissance according to Paul Van Nevel

Documentary on a Renaissance lover

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Paul Van Nevel — Musicologist

Program notes

Sandrine Willems' beautiful documentary on the musician and musicologist Paul Van Nevel.

Musician-musicologist Paul Van Nevel has an affinity for the melancholic and historically-authentic that seem to mirror the tastes of his chosen musical genre, the Renaissance. For years he has combed libraries for forgotten compositions and insisted on using original manuscript sources for the music he plays in order to produce more nuanced interpretations. But he also has an insatiably curiosity about the concrete realities of Renaissance life.

In this documentary, Van Nevel takes us back to a world where time passed more slowly, while lives were paradoxically shorter. There, the dead guided the living, dreams still had power, and most of the earth was still unexplored. When Van Nevel contemplates the Franco-Flemish landscapes where some of the greatest Renaissance composers were born, he sees the reflection of this natural beauty on the works they created. Through the devoted musicologist's eyes, the hills and valleys sing the music of Gombert, Manchicourt, and Lassus, becoming the musical drawing boards of artists of another age.

Photo: © Luk Van Eeckhout

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