Michael Praetorius was a prolific composer and music publisher. He was one of the giants of the early German Baroque. Most of his vast output is church music with just one secular, instrumental collection surviving – Terpsichore (1612). With over 300 dances Terpsichore gives an invaluable picture of the popular dance music of the day. Indeed, the original title page to the music explains that the dances could be used to entertain and delight princely tables and banquets. Most of the melodies were garnered from French dancing masters, to which Praetorius added bass and inner lines. The melody to La Bourée, as arranged here, is also known as the English country dance Parson’s Farewell.
Praetorius gave no precise instructions as to the original instrumentation of his Terpsichore dances. Many recordings of La Bourée use shawms or curtals (the predecessors to the bassoon) to great effect and so it seems fitting to arrange the piece for four bassoons.