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CD REVIEW



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Hopkinson Smith (lute, guitar)
Album
Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750)
Tempo di Borrea from Partita I (BWV 1002) in A minor [6:42]; Sarabande from Suite for Baroque Lute (BWV 1012) in D major [4:10]; Adagio from Sonata I (BWV 1001) in G minor; Prelude from Partita III (BWV 1006) in E Major [4:32];
John DOWLAND
(1563-1626)
Frogg Galliard [2:47]; Lachrimae Pavin [4:10]; Charles MOUTON (1626-after 1699)
La Mallassis Sarabande [2:27];
Sylvius Leopold WEISS
(1686-1750)
Prelude in D minor [1:37]; Courante in D minor [3:30];
Gaspar
SANZ (c.1640-1710)
Marizapalos [4:23]; La Tarantela [2:04]
Alonso MUDARRA (c.1510-1580)
Romanesca
o Guardame las vacas [2:55];
Luys de NARVAEZ
(c.1500-1588)

Veynte
y dos diferencias sobre Conde claros [2:46]
Bernhard Joachim HAGEN
(c.1720-1787)
Largo from Concerto in A major for lute, 2 violins, viola and cello [4:27];
Giovanni Girolamo KAPSPERGER (c. 1580-1651)
Toccata 6 [2:44]; Gagliarda [2:01];
Pierre ATTAINGNANT
(c. 1494-1551/52)
Pavane et Sauterelle [3:43]; Bransle de Poictou [3:01];
Fransisco
GUERAU (1649-1722)
Canarios
(2:27);
Le Vieux GAULTIER
(1575-1651)
La Cascade [8:00];
Jacques De GALLOT
(c.1652-c.1690) Sarabande ‘la sans Pareille’ [4:10)
Hopkinson Smith (Renaissance and Baroque Lutes, Baroque Guitar, Vihuela De Mano)
Chiara Banchini, David Plantier (violins), David Courvoisier (viola), Roël Dieltens (violoncello piccolo) (12)
rec. 1980-2004
NAÏVE E8908 [60:18]

Of the several virtues exhibited by this anthology, intelligent and thoughtful programming ranks high. 

In the liner-notes Hopkinson Smith refers to the anthology as a passage through time, criss-crossing from the Baroque back to the Renaissance and to the Baroque again. This is also true of the performances per se which were made over a period of more than twenty years. 

For the less dedicated listener, twenty-one tracks of Renaissance and Baroque music for lute and allied instruments has a propensity for sameness and ennui. To add variety, contrast and engender greater interest, Hopkinson Smith has not only chosen programme items carefully but employed some other interesting innovations: two differently strung Baroque lutes, three different Renaissance lutes, a vihuela, and a Baroque guitar are used. This combination produces some interesting and welcomed contrasts: Canarios by Fransisco Guerau (18) is played on a Baroque guitar while the following track, Le Cascade by Le Vieux Gaultier, is played on an eleven-course Baroque lute. 

The review disc comprises solo performances with the exception of another delightful contrast: Largo from Bernhard Joachim Hagen’s concerto in A major (12) for lute, two violins, viola and cello. 

Hopkinson Smith is universally acknowledged as one of the finest lute and allied instrument players. Born in 1946 he graduated from Harvard with honours in music in 1972. The next year he went to Europe to study with Emilio Pujol in Catalonia and Eugen Dombois in Switzerland. He subsequently became involved in numerous chamber music projects including the foundation of the ensemble Hespérion XX. This ten-year collaboration in collective music-making complemented his career as a soloist. 

The playing is very enjoyable and of the highest standard. In the year 2000 Hopkinson Smith released a recording of his lute arrangements of the J.S. Bach Partitas and Sonatas for solo violin. The Gramophone magazine nominated this recording as ‘ the best recording of these works on any instrument.’ 

Interestingly the review disc presents three tracks from Bach’s works for solo violin: Tempo di Borrea from BWV 1002 (1); Adagio from Sonata I, BWV 1001(15) and the last track (21), Prelude from the Partita III, BWV 1006. I am not familiar with the aforementioned recording, but based on the review disc, cannot be so definitive as The Gramophone. Well played as these pieces are, one is pressed to place the renditions above original versions played on the violin by such fine players as John Holloway (ECM New Series 1909/10 476 3152). While a number of excellent recorded renditions of these works on violin existed in 2000, Holloway’s version is a more recent addition to the catalogue.

The review disc is the most enjoyable and entertaining recording of music for lute and allied instruments that I have yet encountered. 

Zane Turner 

 

 


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