Quite apart from its own intrinsic musical interest, the lute music of Francisco Spinacino has considerable historical significance. His two publications Intabulata de lauto libro primo
and Intabulata de lauto libro secondo
were both published in Venice in 1507. They were the very first printed volumes ever devoted to compositions for the lute. They were printed by Ottavio Petrucci (1466-1539), who was the first to print music from movable type; those who share my bibliophilic tendencies will find much to relish in Stanley Boorman’s fascinating account of Petrucci’s work and influence, Ottaviano Petrucci: Catalogue Raissonne
, published by Oxford University Press in 2006. It is interesting to note that, like Spinacino, Petrucci was born in Fossombrone in the Marche, so the two of them could well have known one another since their youth. Another first: it is in Spinacino’s books that the term ‘ricercare’ makes its first ever appearance.
Spinacino - of whom almost nothing seems to be known - must have been a considerable instrumentalist, judging by the complexity of much of the music contained in his two books of 1507. Between them the two volumes contain 81 compositions. Over 40 of these are intabulations for solo lute, instrumental arrangements of mostly Flemish vocal music - a kind of distant forerunner of guitar and piano paraphrases of operatic arias – the booklet notes by Stefano A.E. Leoni speak of them as “cover” versions! There are 27 ricercares. This intriguing term carries implications of ‘finding out’, ‘discovering’, ‘seeking out’. Such a sense of fresh enquiry, of a quasi-improvisational quality, is certainly evident in Spinacino’s music. It is on the ricercares that this recital concentrates, though also representing the composer’s intabulations of vocal music and one of the two bassadanze that his volumes include. What we miss is the chance to hear any of Spinacino’s six pieces for two lutes.
Massimo Marchese is a technically accomplished and imaginatively sympathetic performer of this music. As implied earlier, a good deal of this music is by no means straightforward, technically speaking, and Marchese’s assured playing of his six-string lute (made by Ivo Magherini of Bremen in 2003) is a pleasure to hear. In the ‘arrangements’ of vocal music the readings are nicely phrased and eloquent, the ornaments relished but not at the cost of forward momentum; in the more abstract ricarcares, he articulates their often quite elaborate patterns with fair clarity, and conveys attractively the sense of pleased discovery.
The surrounding acoustic takes a little getting used to, though the sound of Marchese’s instrument itself seems to be well captured. Whether for what it tells us about the evolution of the repertoires for solo lute, or for its own musical merits, this is a disc that deserves to find listeners.Glyn Pursglove
Music of both aesthetic and historical interest, well played… see Full Review