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Phillip Rukavina | Italian Lute Music 1508-1517

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Classical: Early Music World: Western European Moods: Type: Acoustic
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Italian Lute Music 1508-1517

by Phillip Rukavina

During the Renaissance in Italy, solo music for the lute was considered one of the most refined expressions of the musical arts. Virtuoso players and composers for this instrument were often considered state or even national treasures.
Genre: Classical: Early Music
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  Song Share Time Download
1. Recercare
0:36 $0.99
2. Pavana Ala Ferrarese
1:59 $0.99
3. Saltarello Ala Ferrarese
1:48 $0.99
4. Piva Ala Ferrarese
2:13 $0.99
5. Et in Terra
3:09 $0.99
6. O Mia Cieca e Dura Sorte
2:01 $0.99
7. Che Farala Che Dirala
1:26 $0.99
8. Tastar de Corde 1
1:48 $0.99
9. Poi Che Volse la Mia Stella
1:47 $0.99
10. Recercare 1
1:36 $0.99
11. Padoanna
2:22 $0.99
12. Ricercare 13
2:40 $0.99
13. Tastar de Corde
1:58 $0.99
14. Recercare 3
1:17 $0.99
15. Pavana Ala Ferrarese 2
2:30 $0.99
16. Saltarello Ala Ferrarese 2
2:29 $0.99
17. Piva Ala Ferrarese 2
1:31 $0.99
18. Ricercare 2
2:33 $0.99
19. Canto Bello
1:19 $0.99
20. Recercare 2
0:48 $0.99
21. Calata Ala Spagnola 2
2:52 $0.99
22. Poi Che'l Ciel Contrario
2:31 $0.99
23. Pavana Ala Venetiana
1:06 $0.99
24. Saltarello Ala Venetiana
1:19 $0.99
25. Piva Ala Venetiana
1:09 $0.99
26. Qui Tollis
2:55 $0.99
27. Ricercare 1
2:49 $0.99
28. Patiencia Ogun Me
2:24 $0.99
29. Laudate Dio
1:20 $0.99
30. Calata Ala Spagnola
2:17 $0.99
Downloads are available as MP3-320 files.


Album Notes
During the Renaissance in Italy, solo music for the lute was considered one of the most refined expressions of the musical arts. Virtuoso players and composers for this instrument were often considered state or even national treasures. Such lutenist/composers included Joanambrosio Dalza (ca. 1508) and Vincenzo Capirola (ca. 1517). The music of both of these composers is heard on this recording. Each captured a sense of musical balance and proportion in their fantasias, ricercares, and dances which is mirrored in the artwork of contemporary painters, such as Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo, and Raphael.

From almost out of nowhere, lute tablature (a system of musical notation specific to the lute) appears to have sprung fully formed from the Renaissance presses of the Venetian printer Ottaviano Petrucci. Prior to Petrucci’s publications of lute tablature from the first years of the 16th-century, only a small amount of music specifically composed for the solo lute survive. Petrucci was a true musical connoisseur publishing works by northern Italy’s finest lutenists, including Joanambrosio Dalza, whose compositions provide over half the music heard on this recording.

The works of Joanambrosio Dalza are found in the only remaining source of his music, Intavolatura de Lauto, Libro Quarto, published by Petrucci in 1508. There are several types of music contained in his book. These include several strange and ethereal pieces called, tastar de corde (literally “tasting the strings”) which lutenists would play to “warm up” their hands, as well as the ears of their audiences, at the beginning of a performance. In addition, there are numerous recercares (“researches”), short works that musically seek out and ultimately establish a modal center within the ears of the listeners. With the audience attuned to the mode of the recercare, the performer would press on to offer more substantial works that were in the same musical mode.

Dalza also includes several dance “suites” either in the ala farrarese or ala venetiana style in his book. These are dance pieces composed in the musical style found in the city of Ferrara or those from the city of Venice. Each short suite contains three musically related movements; first a “walking dance” called a pavan which would usher the dancers onto the dance floor, this is followed by a mixed-meter saltarello to get the dancers moving more vigorously, and finally a fast dance in triple time called a piva, which brings the suite, and the dancers, to a frenetic conclusion. Unlike later Renaissance lute dances by Giovanni Terzi or the English lutenist John Dowland, Dalza’s dance music is truly “working music.” It was not composed as purely artful dance music, intended only to be heard. Rather, Dalza’s lute dances were played to accompany actual dancing at various aristocratic social settings in Renaissance Italy.

Finally, there are several pieces called “calata” included in the book. The calata ala spagnola is a triple time dance that integrates the famous Renaissance ground bass known as, “la spagna” as an aspect of its structure. It is thought that Dalza’s calatas imitate a similar type of music that was played by bagpipers at the time. Hence, the drone effect he employs. While almost nothing is known about Dalza himself, it is certain that he must have been a formidable lute player. His music for solo lute is highly sophisticated, delicately nuanced, and technically demanding for the performer.

A bit less than half of the music on this recording is music from the Vincenzo Capirola Lute Book, an Italian manuscript compiled around 1517. Vincenzo Capirola was a widely travelled Italian lute virtuoso who may have even worked for a time in the court of Henry VIII in England. Capirola’s music is set stylistically between the first lute compositions published by Petrucci at the turn of the century and the more polyphonically conceived music of composed for lute favored by the mid 1500’s.

The Capirola Lute Book is one of the earliest known manuscript sources of music for the solo Renaissance lute. It was compiled by a lute student of Capirola whose name was “Vidal.” The manuscript is itself a visual work of art. In addition to containing beautiful music similar to that in Dalza’s book, the manuscript is filled with colorful lute tablature, forest animals, and country folk painted about the borders of each page. Also the artist, Vidal was a practical soul who noted in the preface of the book:

"...I have adorned [the manuscript] with such noble paintings, so that if it should be owned by somebody with no knowledge in [the musical field], he would keep it for the beauty of the pictures..."

Evidently, he was right. The Capirola Lute Book is now housed in the Newberry Library in Chicago, Illinois. The manuscript contains at least one important “first” in the history of Western music. It is the first source to notate the use of ornaments, or graces, in the actual music. Vidal describes the use of two types of ornaments, what we call the mordent and single trill. Although the symbols appear here and there in the music, Vidal goes on to say that one should place ornaments throughout the music, as dictated by the performer’s own good taste.



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