…The Burwell lute tutor states: "[On] other instruments we sing, but on the lute we speak". That is exactly what Bailes does, and in a very eloquent manner.
Compiled between about 1620 and 1650 by the Munich painter Albrecht Wörl, this manuscript collection of early 17th century baroque lute music includes dances and song settings by many of the earliest generation of lutenist-composers working in the ‘new tunings’ (accords nouveaux). Wörl’s ability to notate the pieces he collected with accuracy seems to have been severely hampered by the rapid degradation of his eyesight. Because of this, and the fact that Wörl’s lute book contains many unique anonymous works, this manuscript, which is full of beautiful music has been overlooked for far too long. Canadian lutenist Evan Plommer presents reconstructed and revitalized versions of 36 pieces in 5 different tunings for baroque lute, including Wörl’s elaborations as well as those of his own making.
The new solo album of Toyohiko Satoh, the 72 year old Japanese lutenist who is considered my many as one of the most influential lute players of the last century, presents a well-known repertoire of baroque lute music. Mr. Satoh was the first lutenist to record Bach’s lute music on LP in the 70s (Phillips). Now he returns to this music 40 years later, delivering a completely different rendering of these iconic pieces. His playing has been influenced much by his studies of traditional Japanese arts such as tea ceremony, No-theater and Zen meditation. So here we are presented a recording that draws from the deep silence within, from the awareness of everything in the universe being connected, and from the understanding of Bach’s music as a universal, almost superhuman symbol of completeness.
This new solo album of world-renowned Japanese lute master Toyohiko Satoh features music by the German baroque composer and lutenist Esaias Reusner (1639-1679), who published two volumes of compositions for solo lute. The pieces of this CD are taken from “Neue Lautenfrüchte”. Reusner’s style is as interesting as it is special and unusual, compared to works of his contemporaries. His pieces are mostly short, sober and pragmatic, showing a very clear and unostentatious attitude.
This recording of lute music may be of most interest to fans of the lute and of the Renaissance-Baroque transition era, but it will be of considerable interest to them: it marks the first recording of the Libro d'intavolature di liuto, or Book of Lute Tablatures, of Vincenzo Galilei (1584). Galilei was the father of none other than astronomer Galileo. The work is given the title The Well-Tempered Lute here; that was not Galilei's title, but the music was apparently the first collection intended to demonstrate the possibilities of equal temperament that Bach would exploit so dramatically a century and a half later. Some scholars have opined that this was a primarily theoretical work; as music, it is both technically difficult and a little monotonous, consisting of groups of dances that may or may not have been danced to. Lutenist Žak Ozmo makes a good case for these little pieces as performer's music, differentiating learned counterpoint from works of a more expressive character.
No more than a handful of pieces represent the entire musical heritage for baroque lute by Johann Sebastian Bach – not a lot when we consider the enormity of the composer’s total output. Although it is not known whether Bach himself played the instrument, the seven works which are ascribable to it continue to enjoy extraordinary attention on the part of musicians due to their exceptional quality, and indeed the majority originate from the areas of Germany that were home to the lute’s greatest exponents – musicians who we can be almost certain the composer came into contact with. This recording thus presents four compositions in suite form and three pieces of a different nature, all belonging to the florid repertoire of the courtly Salonmusik that was in vogue among the German upper classes at the time. Performing them is acclaimed Italian lutenist Mario D’Agosto, whose changes in tonality aim to better serve the capacities of the instrument and whose embellishments are testament to the high level of ornamentation which played such an intrinsic role in baroque performance practice.