Raw passion and ancient energy electrifies the first release from Sarmatica on Sono Luminus. Led by world renowned guitarist Oleg Timofeyev, Sarmatica truly embodies the excitement of the music and the rich culture that developed it.
A medium-size anthology of vocal and instrumental music of the time, the Lviv Lute Tablature offers a great range of genre and national variety in its content. Next to the lute intabulations (i.e., ornamented arrangements of vocal music for solo lute) of the most popular works of Orlando di Lasso, Clément Janequin and Pierre Sandrin one finds in it anonymous songs and dances, professional compositions more modest in scope. Aside from the compositions of Italian, French, German, and PolishRead more origin that found their way into this collection, there are also the three virtuosic fantasias by the celebrated English lutenist John Dowland.
R E V I E W:
This release is something of a revelation: taking materials known for the most part only to scholars, lutenist Oleg Timofeyev and the Ukrainian ensemble Sarmatica have created a convincing realization of a musical document, the Lviv Lute Tablature, that has so far been known mostly to scholars. The Ukrainian city of Lviv has had many names and borne many nationalities over its nearly millennium-long existence, and the relevant tradition here is not Ukrainian but Polish: the manuscript, compiled between the 1550s and the early 18th century, reflected the high-water mark of Polish influence in the form of the vast Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. This collection of lute music was international in scope, containing music from composers as geographically distant as England's John Dowland. The variety of lute pieces would be enough to justify purchase in itself, but that's just the beginning. Timofeyev and Sarmatica (the name refers to a sort of Polish national aesthetic ideology) create both a program and a sound that vividly illustrate the cross-currents present in this repertory, offering both solo lute pieces and ensemble arrangements featuring the lute. The biggest difference from English or German ensemble music is that, according to these performers, the Eastern European context admitted folk influences in a way Western music did not. In the instrumental realm this involved single-reed winds that had a rougher, louder tone than their Western counterparts, and some of the dances here sound something like klezmer music. A performance like that of Arcadelt's Quando io pensal martire ad te Salutor noster (track 8) is even more startling, with what the booklet notes justifiably call "belting voice." The result is an album of music with lute that both remains specific to a place and presents a whole innovative model for performing Renaissance repertory. Like so much of Polish culture, this album deserves more attention than it will probably get. Sono Luminus, on top of all this, has done a superb job recording the lute.