Paul O'Dette

Biography

Born: February 2, 1954  
Few instrumentalists establish themselves with such firm authority as Paul O'Dette has on the lute. In fact, one writer described him as "the clearest case of genius ever to touch his instrument." In fact, O'Dette helped define the technical and stylistic standards to which twenty-first century performers of early music aspire. In doing so, he helped infuse the performance practice movement with a perfect combination of historical awareness, Read more idiomatic accuracy, and ambitious self-expression. "I remember when I first started playing the lute," O'Dette once recalled, "the common perception of Renaissance music was that it was kind of pre-expression -- that people didn't use dynamics, they didn't use tone colors.... [But] the more we've learned, we've realized that in fact all of these expressive devices were being used throughout the sixteenth century." O'Dette deserves much of the credit for bringing this aspect of early music to the fore of performance practice.

O'Dette's musical career can be traced at least back to high school, during which time he played electric guitar in a rock band. Frustrated with the lack of pedagogical consensus within the rock guitar world, and seeking a higher level of technical rigor and discipline, O'Dette took a friend's advice and sought out instruction from a classical guitar teacher in order to improve his rock playing. His first assignment under his new teacher was to learn some Renaissance lute pieces arranged for guitar. He was immediately transfixed by the sonorities of the Renaissance, and sought out recordings of the music on authentic instruments. Also, as luck would have it, his teacher had a kit-made lute that he had never learned to play, which he sold to his student. Over the next few decades, O'Dette's collection expanded to include over 20 instruments, including a lute, an archlute, a chittarone, and a Baroque guitar.

The expansion of his collection paralleled the development of his career as the world's foremost lutenist. In 1976, O'Dette became Director of Early Music at the Eastman School of Music. He has subsequently appeared on over 100 recordings, both as a featured performer and with such prestigious company as Nigel Rogers, Christopher Hogwood, Jordi Savall, Trevor Pinnock, and Gustav Leonhardt. Among his accolades are several nominations for "Record of the Year" for his highly-respected 1995 recording of John Dowland's complete works for lute; the next year his CD of Purcell songs, a collaboration with Sylvia McNair, won a Grammy.

Perhaps O'Dette's style can be described as deeply human. Crucial to his sound is his awareness of the ethnic and dance topics that figure into the music. The dance gestures that correspond-- albeit sometimes in only a stylized way -- to the musical figures, find expression in the contour and phrasing of O'Dette's lines. He makes another enlightening comparison as well, one based on writings contemporaneous to the music: "All of the sixteenth century sources say that the best instrumentalists are those who can make you believe you are listening to words -- that the best instrumental playing strives to imitate the voice in every way possible." This appealing (and historically informed) philosophy of performance and O'Dette's impeccable technique, have made his performance of early music a creative, rather than a curatorial, endeavor. Read less

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Biography

Born: February 2, 1954  
Few instrumentalists establish themselves with such firm authority as Paul O'Dette has on the lute. In fact, one writer described him as "the clearest case of genius ever to touch his instrument." In fact, O'Dette helped define the technical and stylistic standards to which twenty-first century performers of early music aspire. In doing so, he helped infuse the performance practice movement with a perfect combination of historical awareness, Read more
WORKS ALBUMS
TITLE/COMPOSER
LABEL
Prologue: Overture
Prologue: Recitative: Ce n'est plus le temps de la Guerre (Flore, Chorus of all the Deities of the Earth and the Waters)
Prologue: Dialogue: Rendez-vous, Beautez cruelles (Vertumne, Palemon)
Prologue: Menuet: Dans le bel age (Flore)
Prologue: Nous goutons une Paix profonde (Chorus of all the Deities of the Earth and the Waters)
Prologue: Pourquoy du Ciel m'obliger a descendre? (Venus)
Prologue: Symphony
Prologue: Mon Fils, si tu plains mes mal-heurs (Venus)
Prologue: Entra'acte (Overture)
Act I Scene 1: Enfin ma Soeur, le Ciel est appaise (Aglaure, Cidippe)
Act I Scene 1: Tout succede a nos desir (Cidippe, Aglaure)
Act I Scene 2: Ah! Princesse! (Lychas, Aglaure, Cidippe)
Act I Scene 2: Pleurons, pleurons; en de is grands mal-heurs (Lychas, Aglaure, Cidippe)
Act I Scene 2: Italian Lament
Act I Scene 2: Deh, piangete al pianto mio (Grieving Woman, First Grieving Man, Second Grieving Man)
Act I Scene 2: Rispondete a miei lamenti (Grieving Woman)
Act I Scene 2: Com' esser puo fra voi, o numi eterni (Second Grieving Man)
Act I Scene 2: Nume fiero (First Grieving Man, Second Grieving Man)
Act I Scene 2: Air
Act I Scene 2: Ahi ch'indarno si torda (Grieving Woman, First Grieving Man, Second Grieving Man)
Act I Scene 3: vient, a la voir je tremble (Aglaure, Cidippe, )
Act I Scene 4: Seigneur, vous soupirez vous-mesme? (, The King)
Act I Scene 4: Entr'acte: Air
Act II Scene 1: Cyclops, achevez ce superbe Palais (Vulcain)
Act II Scene 2: Pressez-vous ce Travail que l'Amour vous demande? (Zephire, Vulcain)
Act II Scene 2: Depeschez preparez ces lieux (Vulcain)
Act II Scene 2: Servez bien un Dieu si Charmant (Vulcain)
Act II Scene 3: Quoy, vous vous employez pour le fiere (Venus, Vulcain)
Act II Scene 3: Prelude
Act II Scene 4: Ou suis-je? ()
Act II Scene 5: Quels agreable sons ont frappe mes oreilles? (, Nymph, Zephyr, 2 Zephyr, L'Amour)
Act II Scene 6: Et bien, , des cruautez du Sort (L'Amour, )
Act II Scene 6: Aimable Jeunesse (First Nymph, Second and Third Nymphs)
Act II Scene 6: L'Amour a des charmes (First Nymph, Second and Third Nymphs)
Act II Scene 6: Entr'acte: Air
Act III: Ritournelle
Act III Scene 1: Pompe que ce Palais de tous costez etale (Venus)
Act III Scene 2: Que fais-ful montre toy (Venus, )
Act III Scene 3: A la fin je vay voir mon destin eclaircy (, L'Amour)
Act III Scene 4: Arrestez, cher Amant, aou fuiez-vous si viste? ()
Act III Scene 5: Ah! Nymphe, venez-vous soulager mes ennuis? (, Venus)
Act III Scene 6: Vous m'abandonnez-donc, cruel and cher Amant? ()
Act III Scene 7: Arreste, c'est trop tost renoncer a l'espoir (The River, )
Act III Scene 7: Entr'acte: Air
Act IV Scene 1: Par quels noirs and facheux passages ()
Act IV Scene 2: Ou penses-tu porter tes pas (The 3 Furies, , One Fury)
Act IV Scene 2: Air des Demons
Act IV Scene 3: Venez, Nymphes de l'Acheron (The 3 Furies, The 2 Nymphs, , First Nymph, Second Nymph)
Act IV Scene 3: Entr'acte: Air
Act V: Ritournelle
Act V Scene 1: Si je fais vanite de ma tendresse extreme ()
Act V Scene 2: Enfin, insolente Rivale (Venus, )
Act V Scene 3: Vous croyez trop la jalouze colere (Mercure, Venus)
Act V Scene 3: Venus veut-elle resister? (Jupiter, Venus, , L'Amour)
Act V Scene 3: Recitative: Unissons-nous, Troupe Immortelle (Appollon)
Act V Scene 3: Celebrons ce grand Jour (Chorus of Celestial Deities)
Act V Scene 3: Recitative: Si quelque fois (Bacchus)
Act V Scene 3: Recitative: Je cherche a medire (Mome)
Act V Scene 3: Recitative: Mes plus fiers Ennemis vaincus ou pleins d'efroy (Mars)
Act V Scene 3: Chantons les plaisirs charmants (Chorus of the Gods, together with Trumpets and Timpani)
Act V Scene 3: Le Dieu qui nous engage (Apollon)
Act V Scene 3: Ce seroit grand dommage (Apollon)
Act V Scene 3: Gardez-vous, Beautez severes (The Muses')
Act V Scene 3: On ne peut aimer sans peines (Muses')
Act V Scene 3: Admirons le Jus de la Treille (Bacchus)
Act V Scene 3: Bacchus veut qu'on boive a longs traits (Silene)
Act V Scene 3: Ce Dieu rend nos voeux satisfaits (Silene)
Act V Scene 3: Voulez-vous des douceurs parfaites? (Silene, 2 Satyrs, A Satyr, Second Satyr)
Act V Scene 3: Falatrons, divertissons-nour (Mome)
Act V Scene 3: Plaisantons, ne pardonnons rien (Mome)
Act V Scene 3: Prelude
Act V Scene 3: Laissons en paix toute la Terre (Mars)
Act V Scene 3 : Finale
Act V Scene 3: Finale: Chantons les Plaisirs charmants (Chorus)


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