Program: #20-14 Air Date: Mar 23, 2020
Paul O’Dette with music of Albert de Rippe, Nigel North and Francesco da Milano, and Jakob Lindberg with works of Jan Antonin Losy.
I. Albert de Rippe: "Un perfaict sonneur de Leut” (Paul O’Dette, lute & Renaissance guitar)). Harmonia Mundi CD HMM 902275.
Albert De Rippe, as he became known, rose through the ranks, performing in the highest echelons of society (on one occasion he joined Francesco da Milano in playing for Pope Paul III). Praised for decades by writers and musicians across western Europe, he was exceptionally well known in his lifetime. All the more surprising, then, to realize that only three of his works were published while he was alive; the rest of his output was printed posthumously under the direction of a former student, Guillaume Morlaye.
Like other composers, De Rippe’s work centers on the most popular genres of his day: fantasias for both lute and guitar, dances, and intabulations of vocal works, almost entirely French. But in significant contrast to his peers, he creates much greater technical challenges: five- and six-note chords instead of the typical three, sweeping arpeggiated chords; long, singable phrases; and a wide palette of tone colors. Because of these technical and compositional attributes, De Rippe’s music tends to stick out from the crowd. That’s why, Paul O’Dette explains in liner notes, a number of the dances and the final guitar fantasia are included on this album, despite not having been attributed to him.
If anyone should know how best to identify a De Rippe work in the wild, it would be O’Dette; as one of the most influential, technically precise, and emotionally expressive performers in the lute world, he is a fine candidate to be De Rippe’s modern-day counterpart. He more than gives the music its due; the technical demands of these works might not be apparent to listeners who don’t themselves play the lute, but their contrapuntal richness and melodic beauty certainly are. Some of De Rippe’s works have been previously recorded, by O’Dette and others, but this is the first album dedicated solely to this composer in some time. (Hopkinson Smith’s recording, in comparison, was released in 1978.)
To many listeners, then, these works are likely to be unfamiliar. The album is beautifully constructed to that end, as the fantasias on new themes are interspersed among pavanes and galliards on familiar bass lines, or intabulations of better-known vocal works. For me, these in particular permit the listener to hear what De Rippe is doing; listen, for example, to the ways he fleshes out the vocal texture through ornamental passages in “Martin menoit,” or by doubling a moving line at the octave, or breaking up chordal passages and building in greater numbers of voices in “Douce memoire” or “O passi sparsi.”
O’Dette is at his expressive finest throughout the album, but the concluding guitar fantasias (“Fantasie II de Guyterne” and “La Seraphine”) are standouts, and the close acoustic space allows him to really bring out the dynamic contrasts in “L’Eccho.” It’s a lovely, and lovingly created, recording, certain to elevate De Rippe’s reputation as a master of his craft.—Karen Cook
2 Pavane "La Romanesque" 2'40
3 Gaillarde "La Milanoise" 1'22
4 Fantasie III 4'26
5 Douce mémoire 3'50
6 On en dira ce qu'on voudra 1'45
7 Fantasie II 4'21
8 O passi sparsi 4'59
9 Pavane I 1'32
10 Galliarde I 1'21
11 Fantasie VIII 3'10
12 L'eccho [Dieu qui conduis] 3'17
13 Galliarde II 1'23
14 Fantasie IX 5'35
15 Or vien ça vien mamie Perrette 1'58
16 Fantasie I de Guyterne 4'23
17 Pavane II 2'57
18 Galliarde III 1'54
19 Fantasie XXII 4'54
20 Martin menoit 2'32
21 Fantasie V 2'44
22 Galliarde IV 1'05
23 Gaillarde Piemontoise 0'58
24 Fantasie II "de Guyterne" 4'11
25 La Seraphine 4'56
II. A Decoration of Silence: The lute music of Il Divino (Nigel North, lute & viola da mano). BGS CD 128.
The G minor set (Ness 70, 71, 88, 55) begins with two beautiful miniature ricercars (70, 71) taken from Vincenzo Galilei’s Intavolatura de Lauto (Rome, 1563), published 20 years after Francesco’s death. Ricercar 70 begins with five rolled chords, and grows into imitative polyphony, with the theme heard at three different octaves. North strings his lute as Francesco did, that is with the 4th, 5th and 6th courses strung in octaves. When one of these courses is plucked, both notes will normally be heard, but it is possible to emphasise the lower octave by plucking with one’s right-hand thumb, or the upper octave by plucking with one’s index finger. In bar 31 of Ricercar 71, a low f# on the 4th course is marked with a dot for the note to be played with the index finger, but North appears to use his thumb, bringing out the lower octave instead. Fortunately this tiny detail does not detract from North’s thoughtful and expressive performance. In Ricercar 88 he changes c6 to a5, I think correctly, which coincidentally matches a similar passage in bars 55-7 of Ricercar 6; there are some beautifully placed chords in bar 27, but his rallentando at bar 51 loses the excitement of four fast cadential quavers.
The third set (Ness 78, 29, 91, 5) is in F major, and is played on a viola da mano tuned a tone higher than the lute. Both instruments were built by Malcolm Prior, and have a bright, clear tone, ideal for this repertoire. The earliest printed source of Francesco’s music is Intavolatura de Viola o vero Lauto (1536), which mentions both instruments; it is likely that the music in Italian lute tablature was intended for the lute, and that the music in Neapolitan tablature was intended for the viola da mano, but both instruments have the same tuning, and they could be used interchangeably for any of Francesco’s music. North also uses the viola da mano for the last two sets (Ness 52, 21, 63, 20, 18, 19).
Some of Francesco’s pieces are quite short, lasting one minute or less. Ricercar 91 has a mere 29 bars, but North spins it out to 1’36” by playing it through twice. For track 14 he plays Ricercar 14, runs straight into Ricercar 74, and then goes back for a repeat of Ricercar 14, the whole thing lasting just 2’16”. Fantasia 25, on the other hand, is an extended work, made up of many sections, each developing a particular musical idea; most surprising and effective are three semibreve chords at bars 111-3, which temporarily call a halt to the constant hustle and bustle of quavers and semiquavers scurrying across the fingerboard. Fantasia 83 appears twice in Cambridge University Library Dd.2.11: on folio 16r (used by Ness in his edition), and folio 18r (used by Shepherd for the Lute Society Milano series). North plays the version on 18r, but he does not include c4 in the first bar, a note which Shepherd reinstates for the sake of imitation of the opening theme. The CD ends with a long Fantasia from the Castelfranco MS, which does not have a Ness number, because it was discovered after Ness’s edition was published.
This is North’s second CD devoted to the music of Francesco. The first was Dolcissima et Amorosa (BGS 122). I hope he will be tempted to produce a third.
|Ricercare No. 6||00:03:29|
|1||Ricercare No. 6||00:02:53||North, Nigel|
|Fantasia No. 61||00:01:00|
|2||Fantasia No. 61||00:01:00||North, Nigel|
|Fantasia No. 67||00:02:00|
|3||Fantasia No. 67||00:01:42||North, Nigel|
|Fantasia No. 65||00:02:36|
|4||Fantasia No. 65||00:02:22||North, Nigel|
|Fantasia No. 23||00:03:22|
|5||Fantasia No. 23||00:03:22||North, Nigel|
|Ricercare No. 70||00:01:00|
|6||Ricercare No. 70||00:00:55||North, Nigel|
|Ricercare No. 71||00:01:16|
|7||Ricercare No. 71||00:00:15||North, Nigel|
|Ricercare No. 88||00:03:04|
|8||Ricercare No. 88||00:03:04||North, Nigel|
|Fantasia No. 55||00:05:18|
|9||Fantasia No. 55||00:05:18||North, Nigel|
|Ricercare No. 78||00:01:00|
|10||Ricercare No. 78||00:01:00||North, Nigel|
|Fantasia No. 29||00:01:45|
|11||Fantasia No. 29||00:01:45||North, Nigel|
|Ricercare No. 91||00:01:36|
|12||Ricercare No. 91||00:01:36||North, Nigel|
|Fantasia No. 5||00:03:41|
|13||Fantasia No. 5||00:03:41||North, Nigel|
|Ricercare No. 14 - Ricercare No. 75 - Ricercare No||00:02:16|
|14||Ricercare No. 14 - Ricercare No. 75 - Ricercare No||00:02:16||North, Nigel|
|Ricercare No. 44||00:01:39|
|15||Ricercare No. 44||00:01:39||North, Nigel|
|Fantasia No. 64||00:02:36|
|16||Fantasia No. 64||00:02:18||North, Nigel|
|Fantasia No. 25||00:04:00|
|17||Fantasia No. 25||00:04:00||North, Nigel|
|Ricercare No. 69||00:02:04|
|18||Ricercare No. 69||00:02:04||North, Nigel|
|Fantasia No. 83||00:01:56|
|19||Fantasia No. 83||00:01:56||North, Nigel|
|Fantasia No. 82||00:01:24|
|20||Fantasia No. 82||00:01:24||North, Nigel|
|Ricercare No. 50||00:02:27|
|21||Ricercare No. 50||00:02:27||North, Nigel|
|Fantasia No. 26||00:01:51|
|22||Fantasia No. 26||00:01:51||North, Nigel|
|Ricercare No. 52||00:02:00|
|23||Ricercare No. 52||00:01:44||North, Nigel|
|Fantasia No. 21||00:02:45|
|24||Fantasia No. 21||00:02:45||North, Nigel|
|Fantasia No. 63||00:01:17|
|25||Fantasia No. 63||00:01:17||North, Nigel|
|Fantasia No. 20||00:03:32|
|26||Fantasia No. 20||00:03:33||North, Nigel|
|Ricercare No. 18||00:02:41|
|27||Ricercare No. 18||00:02:41||North, Nigel|
|Fantasia No. 19, "Bellissima"||00:04:53|
|28||Fantasia No. 19, "Bellissima"||00:04:53||North, Nigel|
|Fantasia de Francesco Milanese divina||00:04:37|
|29||Fantasia de Francesco Milanese divina||00:04:37||North, Nigel|
III. Jan Antonin Losy: Note d’oro (Jakob Lindberg, lute—by Sixtus Rauwolf, c.1590). BIS CD 2462.
The CD begins with a suite in A minor, compiled by Lindberg from various sources, including a Prelude adapted from one for baroque guitar, and a Courante and Double with an unobtrusive touch of notes inégales and a surprising secondary dominant towards the end. Lindberg’s playing is most gratifying – lively yet unhurried, with well-shaped phrases allowing the harmonies to follow their logical course to a final cadence, which is almost invariably decorated with dissonance on the tonic. An Aria is played at a very sedate speed, giving time for delicate ornaments to be heard clearly, followed by a thoughtful Gavotte enhanced by what I assume are Lindberg’s own additional notes for repeats. The suite ends with a lively two-voice Caprice, where fast running notes are shared between treble and bass. Next comes a suite in F major, the seven selected movements long known to modern lute players from Emil Vogel’s Z Loutnových Tabulatur Českého Baroka (Prague: Editio Supraphon, 1977). After a slow, stately start, the overture breaks into three fast beats in a bar, developing a theme of three crotchets and four quavers, before returning briefly to the slower speed of the beginning. Then comes a restful Allemande with much imitation, nice little variants (presumably Lindberg’s own) for repeats, and a passage of parallel tenths played brisé for the repeat. The overall pitch then drops for a Courante, which canters along in continuous quavers in style brisé, so that in the second section there are only three places where more than one note is played at a time. The piece ends with a descending sequence, which Lindberg decorates for a petite reprise. In contrast the following Sarabande has a thicker texture, with many rolled chords. Its second section begins with a surprising chord of C minor, played on the lower reaches of the lute – its highest note (g) is on the fourth course. As with so many of these pieces, Lindberg tastefully adds myriad extra notes to enliven repeats.
There is just one place in the whole of this delightful CD where I think something is not quite right. In the Sarabande of the Suite in D minor, the F major chord at the start of bar 13 should really be in root position, but Lindberg plays it as a second inversion with the note c in the bass, and does the same for the repeat. I wonder if his edition has that note accidentally notated one line too low in the tablature.
With suites in A minor, F major, G major, D minor, G minor and B flat major, ending with a Chaconne in F major, there is much to enjoy. Apart from Lindberg’s masterful playing, there is one thing which makes it all rather special: his lute was built c. 1590 by Sixtus Rauwolf of Augsburg, probably as a seven- or eight-course instrument, and surprisingly it still has its original soundboard. It was later adapted to be an 11-course lute, and was restored a few years ago by Michael Lowe, Stephen Gottlieb and David Munro. Its sound is well balanced, with clear bright notes in the treble, and bass notes which are not too loud and do not sustain too long. With its variety of tone colours, it helps make the music sing, and must undoubtedly be an inspiration to play. Note d’oro indeed.
|03||Courante / Double||4:00|
|Suite In F Major|
|Suite in G major|
|16||Menuets I & II||2:14|
|Suite In D Minor|
|Suite in G minor|
|31||Menuet In C Major||1:35|
|Suite In B Flat Major|
|36||Chaconne In F Major||3:18|
Albert de Rippe (1500-1551), Francesco Canova da Milano, Jan Antonín Losy (c.1650-1721)
Harmonia Mundi CD HMM 902275, BGS CD 128, BIS CD 2462.