Dance plays an important role in Quiet Music. Its rhythmic impulses produce a characteristic intensity and lightness. These dances can represent real physical dances or stylized and highly refined art forms, reflecting the dance of the universe, the rotations of the stars or the rhythms of nature.
Between these two poles there are many variations: the pair-dance known as the Pavane with its gentle, restful movements creates a strange, floating, almost disembodied feeling, in contrast to the more hefty “Paurentäntze”, which are full of spirit.
The really quite physical Galliard - a vigorous leaping dance - can take on mysterious, lyrical qualities in French Baroque lute music. Purely concertante fantasies and fugues, on the other hand, take a highly rhythmic form with jazz-like features. No limits are set to the composer’s fantasy.
However, running through all the expressivity and diversity of this dance music, Elegance plays a most important role. The fine, distinctive tone quality of the lute and viola da gamba alone guaranteed a sound world in which brash, clumsy, rustic dance forms had no place. Behind this courtly, dance-oriented music stands the characteristic Renaissance ideal of the cultured individual striving for perfection, the Renaissance Man.
© Lutz Kirchhof, Weilburg 2015