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Division-Musick ()

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The "division" was a characteristic form of English music in the 17th century, somewhere between a ground bass work and a set of variations. Divisions are short pieces based on bass patterns, more often original than using the established ground basses of Italian music, and they could be manipulated in several ways. These works often show up on collections of viol consort music, but the British duo Musicke & Mirth, augmented by violinist Amandine Beyer and keyboardist Johannes Strobl, performs a service by bringing together varied examples of the tradition. The pieces and even the composers, except for William Lawes and John Jenkins, are hardly known. The level of virtuosity is moderate compared with, say, the La Follia tradition in Italy, but the charm lies instead with the domestic quality of the music and its ingenuity within that context. Consider the two pieces by Christopher Simpson entitled Division for two viols (tracks 10 and 18). These short duets expertly manipulate the dual requirements of... Hide synopsis

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