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Rolf Lislevand, Improvising with 'Nuove Musiche'

Rolf Lislevand plays the theorbo in NPR's Studio 4A.
Ned Wharton, NPR
Rolf Lislevand plays the theorbo in NPR's Studio 4A.

After the dense harmonies of the 16th century, a simpler style of music emerged, allowing performers to develop improvisational talents. Yet many contemporary musicians play "early music" pieces as closely as possible to the way they were played when they were written.

Not so Norwegian baroque guitarist Rolf Lislevand and his group. The CD Nuove Musiche offers a 21st-century sound with percussion and a jazzy double bass backing up vocalist Arianna Savall. Not to mention the theorbo, the clavichord and the nyckelharpa.

Lislevand dropped by NPR's Studio 4A recently to perform with instruments exotic to modern ears, and tell Liane Hansen about his fresh new approach to musical styles that were created hundreds of years ago.

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