Notes and Editorial Reviews
A thoroughly enjoyable conspectus of lute songs and lute solos from Renaissance Europe, mixing familiar and unfamiliar and played by two modern masters of these forms. There’s music here from England, Italy, Germany, France and Poland. Of course the composers concerned were, in many respects, more ‘international’ than ‘national’. Their persons – and their music – crossed many boundaries and many musical exchanges were effected in this period.
Dowland, for example, spent some four years in Paris as a young man, visited and performed (and listened to others perform) at such important musical courts as those of Heinrich Julius, Duke of Brunswick, at Wolfenbüttel, and Moritz, Landgrave of Hesse, at Kassel. He travelled in Italy, with spells in Venice (where he met Giovanni Croce), Padua, Genoa, Ferrara, and Florence. From 1598 to 1606 he was lutenist at the court of Christian IV of Denmark. Or, to take two more examples, Giovanni Kapsberger was born Johann(es) Hieronymus Kapsberger, supposedly born in Venice, son of a German gentleman; the Polish lutenist and composer, Wojchiech (Albertus) D?ugoraj had his music published in France by Jean-Baptiste Brossard and lived most of his mature life outside his native Poland. So, though it makes some sense to talk of national styles in this period, it also makes sense to create an anthology such as this which stresses the internationalism of the prevailing musical idioms.
On this CD, Lindberg plays a restored lute of c.1590, identified as the work of Sixtus Rauwolf, a lute-maker of Augsburg, claimed, quite plausibly, to be the oldest surviving lute in playable condition, still retaining its original soundboard. The instrument’s lovely sound is quite beautifully captured in this recording, both in solo pieces – not least the quite ravishing Fantasia by Gregory Huwet (who was born in Antwerp, worked at Wolfenbüttel and was held in high regard by Dowland) – and as accompaniment to the voice of Emma Kirkby.
Most readers of MusicWeb have presumably long since made up their mind about Kirkby. If, like me, you find her voice, and the intelligence with which she uses it, one of the great joys to be had in hearing this repertoire, then this, you will want to know, is another excellent CD, on which the voice seems yet to have lost very little and the intelligence (or musical experience) is even greater than on her youthful recordings. If you never fell under Kirkby’s musical spell than this is not, I imagine, a recital likely to effect any kind of sudden conversion.
The subtlety of interpretation on offer here is remarkable, but entirely unostentatious. Listen, for example, to Kirkby’s phrasing in Heinrich Schütz’s ‘Eile mich, Gott, zu erreten’ – few singers, in whatever style, can so wonderfully give equal weight to the demands of text and music; or listen to the marvellous interplay between singer and accompanist in Sigismondo d’India’s beautiful ‘Quella vermiglia rosa’; or to Lindberg’s exquisite presentation of three short pieces for lute by Michelangelo Galilei (another ‘international’ figure, born in Italy, who worked in Poland and Bavaria). These are jewels indeed.
The recorded sound is perfect; intimate but not over-close. Full texts and translations are provided.
-- Glyn Pursglove, MusicWeb International
This is a hybrid Super Audio CD playable on both regular and Super Audio CD players.