Musicke & Mirth

The Ensemble

The ensemble Musicke & Mirth, founded by Irene Klein and Jane Achtman during their studies in Basle in 1997, stands as a testament to their passion for exploring the enchanting realm of music for two viols.

While embracing the richness of the traditional French repertoire, the ensemble’s distinctive focus lies in unearthing lesser-known gems, including compositions for two lyra viols and the late German Galant style.

Expanding beyond the core duo when the repertoire demands, Musicke & Mirth brings together musicians dedicated to performing on period instruments and adhering to original scores, showcasing an unwavering commitment to historical performance practice.

The ensemble's winning formula of authenticity, coupled with a unique performing flair, has propelled them to success, earning acclaim in concert halls and competitions alike.

Over the past 25 years, the ensemble has crafted diverse programs in various constellations, captivating audiences across Europe.

Documenting its manifold programs on six meticulously curated CDs, Musicke & Mirth’s discography reflects the depth of its exploration. The debut, “Musicke & Mirth,” unveiled in 2001 by Raumklang, showcases English music for two Lyra Viols. “Die Spinne im Netz,” released in 2004 by Raumklang in the schola cantorum basiliensis edition, delves into the musical landscape of 16th-century Nuremberg prints. “Feuer und Bravour,” a 2008 release by Ramée, spotlights galant music from the Berlin court, earning immediate recognition with a Diapason Découverte. “Division-Musick,” presented by Rameé in 2012, is followed by the 2017 release of “..und weil die Music lieblich ist,” featuring music by Balthasar Fritsch (dhm/Sony Music Entertainment). The most recent addition, “A Store Housse of Treasure” (Ramée, 2022), centers on the distinctive traditions of polyrhythmic music and solmisation practiced in English church chapels around 1600.

Jane Achtman

began playing medieval fiddle at age nine and picked up the viol shortly thereafter. After receiving her degree in early music at the Akademie für Alte Musik in Bremen, Germany (viol with Sarah Cunningham) and further studies with Mary Springfels in Chicago, she was awarded a DAAD stipend to continue her studies at the Schola Cantorum Basiliensis in Switzerland (viol with Paolo Pandolfo, medieval fiddle with Randall Cook). She recieved her diploma in Early Music in 2002.

In 1997 Jane founded the ensemble Musicke & Mirth together with Irene Klein. Since its formation the ensemble has developed various programs in different constellations. It has been successful at competitions, winning prizes at the Dorian/EMA Recording Competition, the Premio Bonporti and the Van Wassenaer Concours. Four CDs have been published by the ensemble to date: Musicke & Mirth — Music for two Lyra Viols (2001), Die Spinne im Netz (2004), Feuer und Bravour (2008) and Division-Musick (2012).
Jane is a member of the ensembles Oni Wytars and Unicorn. She has worked with Kees Boeke, Pedro Memelsdorff and René Jacobs. Michael Hofstetter has repeatedly asked her to perform in opera productions and as a soloist with the L’Orchestre de Chambre Genéve. Her discography is varied, ranging from the 13th century “Play of Daniel” to Johann Sebastian Bach’s Fugues. She has recorded with the recording companies Erato,ecmandbmg, among others. Jane regularly travels all over Europe and has traveled as far abroad as Israel, China, Japan, Iran and to the USA for concerts. In addition to her teaching and concert activities on the viol, her interest in earlier repertoire has led her to specialize in medieval music. In 2013 she began teaching at the Musikschule Köniz and is presently employed in a research project on historical gut string manufacturing at the Hochschule für Künste Bern.

Irene Klein

was introduced to early music at a young age, receiving her first lessons on the viol when she was nine. After completing her studies with Paolo Pandolfo at the Schola Cantorum Basiliensis in Switzerland, she rounded off her studies with Roberto Gini at the Civica Scuola di Musica in Milano. Her talent for solo playing culminated in her winning the second highest prize awarded at the “First International Bach-Abel Competition for the Viol” in Köthen/Anhalt, Germany in 1997, and an “Honorable Mention” at the “Concours Musica Antiqua” in Bruges, Belgium in 1999. Her viol duo Musicke&Mirth with Jane Achtman has received numerous prizes in competitions and for the ensembles recordings.

Irene is a sought-after gambist and Lirone player performing in concert, opera and recording projects throughout Europe. She has collaborated with ensembles such as Marais Consort (Hamburg), The Spirit of Gambo (The Hague), Hathor Consort (Brussels), Circles Oslo, the Akademie für Alte Musik Berlin and the Collegium Vocale Gent, with ensemble leaders and conductors such as Anthoney Rooley, Barbara Maria Willi, Michael Hofstetter, René Jacobs, Alessandro de Marchi and Philippe Herreweghe.

She taught Viola da Gamba at the Tynska Skola Conservatory in Prague from 1999 to 2001, and has been employed as a gamba teacher by the Felix Mendelssohn-Bartholdy Conservatory in Leipzig since 2004. In addition, Irene teaches pupils and students of all ages in Berlin, privately and at the Freie Waldorfschule Mitte.