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.
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) Długoraj 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