Wednesday, 3 August 2011

Itinerary - Romanesque Churches

 Romanesque Art around
Ribérac and Verteillac - Périgord


In the relative peace between the 19th and 12th centuries,
after the Viking invasions, the decadent Carolingian dynasty
and struggles between feudal barons,
white-stoned Romanesque churches sprang up all over the area,
particularly around Ribérac and along the Charente border.
This is the area where we live...

The churches vary enormously, from the simplest to the most refined,
though sobriety and sparse ornamentation are a common feature.
Based around one or more cupolas, some naves are divided
into a series of square vaulted bays topped by domes.
Most follow a rectangular plan, with a simple nave ending in a rounded or polygonal apse
but each church has is own character and personality.
In some fortified churches,
such as Saint-Martial-Veveyrols,

multiple domes flank a spacious belfry...

...used to shelter the villagers who climbed a narrow staircase
within the thick wall to reach shelter in the upper storey.

Crenellations and arrow slits are further indications
that such churches doubled as keeps in troubled times.

One could follow a circuit of these domed churches
during our Baroque Music Festival last week.

 The idea of Saturday's itinerary is to attend six consecutive concerts
in six churches not far from one another.
All ticket holders were invited first
to an organ concert, in the church of Cercles, beginning at 9:45:

Jan Pieterszoon Sweelinck, Johann Sebastian Bach
Joseph Haydn and Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach
with Ton Koopman

After the concert, everyone was divided into one of five groups and given a 'passport'
 indicating the order in which they should attend the remaining concerts.
Each concert will last approx. 30 minutes.
Starting time at the 5 churches was at 11, 12:15, 3:00, 4:15 and 5:30.
The musicians repeated the concerts with each new group.
Sufficient time was allowed for participants to get from one church
to the next without rushing.  Additionally, two hours has been set-aside for lunch.


The Saint Martin church of Cherval is a good example of a fortified church with domes.

The flat-ended sanctuary...

...has three windows,

while the nave is topped by domes pierced with openings
that could be used as a system of defence.

The church can be dated to the 12th-13th Century

The concerts in this church:
Giovanni Kapsberger, Girolamo Frescobaldi,
Claudio Monteverdi, Giovanni Girolamo Kapsberger,
Flamminio Corradi, Sigismondo D'India
Giovanni Paolo Foscarini, Giovanni Rovetta

Scientific advancements throughout Europe around the turn of the 17th Century
led to discoveries that opened up new perspectives on human existence.
The perception of the sun and the earth,
of light and darkness depended upon both physical knowledge
as well as the observer's theological standpoint.
A stylish transition in music around 1600 reflected
this developement of a new, early modern identity.
As pioneers of the stile nuovo, composers such as Claudio Monterverdi,
Sigismondo d'India and Giovanni Girolamo Kapsberger contributed significantly
to the emergence of a new aesthetic able to more acutely express emotions........

The Concert by Hendrick ter Brugghen, 1588 - 1629
National Gallery, London



When I visited some of the churches 2 weeks ago to make plans for the decoration,

This Romanesque church has three bays of which two are covered in cupolas,
and a flat-ended chevet to an apse covered in barrel vaulting.
The bell tower gives a defensive aspect to the building.

The church underwent few modifications...

...and has happily preserved its authentic medieval aspect.

'Dans Cette Douce Et Plaisante Vallee'
several 18th Century Dutch composer

Unlike in France, in the 17th and early 18th Century
Holland did not have a court for which great amounts of music was written.
Music was cultivated chiefly under the auspices of the Calvinist church,
the city authorities, or in the numerous collegia musica.
There was also music in inns, which commonly had a collection
of musical instruments for visitors to play, in return for a free drink.
If a guest wasn't able to play some music,
he had to pay drinks for everyone in the pub!

The music in this program varied from music played in the pub
to music played in the highbrow collegia musica.

Before we continue to the next church -
a few 'impressions' of a typical French house in this village

.... no comments ....

And a quick visit to the old cemetery....
 right next to the church...


Eglise Saint-Paul-Lizonne

Built in the 12th Century,

...St. Paul was modified in the 17th Century and again in the 19th Century.
Only the transept and the apse are of Romanesque origin.

The main interest of this church lies in the rare Louis XVI interior decoration:
the ceiling, composed of wooden boards was painted in 1689.

The 18th Century reredos is also one of the most beautiful in this region.

 about 1457 - 1504, National Gallery London

The Concert:
'Danse Et Chanson'

The basse dance is a stately court dance whose golden age
lasted from the middle of the 15th Century to the middle of the 16th Century.
It probably originated in Burgundy, and was enthusiastically taken up by courts throughout Europe.
According to the musicologist Daniel Heartz, each note of the melody
corresponds to a figure of dance.  Each figure is composed
of four movements of equal duration, with the musical accompaniment taking up six beats.
Thus the dancers moved fluidly on their toes in a three-to-two proportion to the music.

With the exception of Fille a marier, one of the pieces,
the songs in this program are by Guilaume Dufay  and Gilles Binchois,
two of the great composers of the 15th Century.


St.Paul-Lizonne-Village 'Impressions':

Old fashion French Roses allover....

 and nearly at every house...


Eglise Saint-Saturnin

This small 12th Century church, which was already falling into ruin in the 18th Century,
 was mainly restored at that time:

the bell tower and porch being entirely rebuilt.

There are three bays, two being vaulted cupolas on pendant brackets.

To the south of the third bay a chapel was created in 1702.

 The apse is vaulted in a "cul de jour"....

 ...ornamented by arches...

...resting on pillars with sculpted capitals.

I call this  "architectural harmony"

...and the recently repainted doors are just beautiful

The Concert:
"Strumenti Dell'Amore, Del Pianto E Della Vittoria"

When considering the development of early music,
the 18th Century can perhaps be perceived as the richest period due to
the innumerable and quite diverse additions that took place in the space of only 100 years.
Alongside a host of transitory instruments that are today known only by historical references,
this period also gave birth to a number of instruments that remain part of today's standard repertoire,
including the piano-forte and the clarinet.  Shortly after its invention at Nuremberg in 1700,
use of the clarinet spread throughout Germany.  For example, by 1739 five clarinets were
already in use at the Benedictine monastery of Kremsmunster in Upper Austria.
The discovery of the clarinet was made in direct correlation with work on the
chalumeau being undertaken by the instrument maker J.C. Denners in Nuremberg.
The chalumeau was played for the first time in 1706,
at the Viennese Court by the hautboiste of the Hofkapelle.
In the following composers including Fux, Ariosti, Caldara, Conti,
and the Bonicini brothers used the chalumeau's intimate and dark sound for parts
of their operas and oratorios, most often the pastorals.
The emperor Joseph 1st wrote one of the most elaborate parts
for the chalumeau in his aria "Tutto in piano" for Ziani's opera "Chilonida".

by Calamus Consort
the musicians of this concert in Couture
Michaela Riener, soprano
Ernst Schlader and Markus Springer, clarinette and chalumeaux
Mario Aschauer, clavecin

André Bouys, 1656 - 1740
La Barre and Other Musicians, about 1710
National Gallery, London

I hope that you enjoyed this 'small' Circuit Roman
with all information about the several concerts, held successfully in our beautiful old churches. 



Don't miss!

 Two beautiful bee skeps

A wonderful Give-Away
from the lovely ladies Angela and Renee
Under Spanish Moss   here 


  1. Yet again we are taken away. We believe that turning a roman catholic church into a home may be one of our dreams to work making reality! i love the stone, the lighting, the architect, the arched ceiling, etc. Pulse racing again!
    Have a wonderful weekend!
    Renee and Angela

    P.S. Checkout our giveaway, and feel free to use some pictures and discuss with your followers. God Bless

  2. What a lovely tour - thank you for this. What an amazing day you must have had.

    I will reply to your email about the tablecloths soon, life is quite hectic at the moment.

  3. Karin- I just went on the tour with you- like stepping into the Middle Ages! I would be hard pressed to choose a favorite church, as they are all so unique. Do you have a favorite?

  4. Hi Ann, yes I have a favorite church which is not mention yet.
    It will come in the last post of the festival in a few days time.
    Thank you very much for your comment.

  5. Karin,this made me regret not attending the concerts,you make it look so beautiful!