Phillip Rukavina | Music from the Casteliono Lute Book (1536)

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Music from the Casteliono Lute Book (1536)

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. This recording captures the expression, beauty, and delicacy of music composed for the Italian Renaissance lute.
Genre: Classical: Early Music
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  Song Share Time Download
1. Tochata
0:39 $0.99
2. Fantasia I.
4:07 $0.99
3. Peschatore che va cantando
2:13 $0.99
4. Saltarello La Traditorella
1:31 $0.99
5. Fantasia II.
4:52 $0.99
6. Pavana chiamata La Malcontenta
1:06 $0.99
7. Saltarello chimato Burato
0:55 $0.99
8. Tochata nel fine del Ballo
0:20 $0.99
9. Fantasia III.
1:57 $0.99
10. Fantasia IV.
3:29 $0.99
11. Pavana Nova
2:04 $0.99
12. Saltarello
1:55 $0.99
13. Fantasia V.
5:10 $0.99
14. Pavana chiamata La Desperata
2:47 $0.99
15. Saltarello
1:09 $0.99
16. Fantasia
3:16 $0.99
17. Tocha tocha la canella
1:52 $0.99
18. Tochata
0:24 $0.99
19. Fantasia
3:28 $0.99
20. Fantasia
2:50 $0.99
21. Pavana chiamata La Milanesa
1:25 $0.99
22. Saltarello
1:19 $0.99
23. Fantasia
3:32 $0.99
Downloads are available as MP3-320 files.


Album Notes
Giovanni Antonio Casteliono's 1536 print, Intabolatura de leuto di diverse autori, was a ground-breaking musical publication for several reasons. Where the first published books of tablature for the lute by Ottavio Petrucci (ca. 1507) feature only works by a single lutenist/composer, Casteliono took on the more complicated task of presenting the work of ‘diverse autori,’ or several composers, in his book.

Casteliono's book included music by the most famous lutenist of his age, Francesco da Milano (1497-1543), who served both Popes Leo X and Paul III in Rome. He also included music by Alberto da Mantua (ca.1500-1550), more commonly known as Alberto da Rippe, the highly paid lutenist to François I of France. In addition, there is music by the gifted 'gentleman amature' Pietro Paulo Borrono (ca. 1495-ca. 1563) and the little-known German lutenist Giovanni Albuzio (ca. 1536). The previous generation of lutenists is represented by another famous lutenist, Marco dall'Aquila (ca. 1480-ca. 1538).

The repertoire of music for the Renaissance lute consists of intabulations, fantasias (sometimes called ricercares), and dances. Intabulations, the setting of preexisting vocal music on the lute, make up the majority of lute pieces from the Renaissance era. Yet surprisingly, Casteliono included no intabulations in his 1536 publication, but only included fantasias and dances. A fantasia was, as the name implies, music created from the imagination or fantasy of the composer. The structure of a fantasia relied both on the rules of composition and on those of rhetoric. The lutenist composed, or as often would improvise, a fantasia by developing and interweaving short musical motives, much as a poet uses words, to draw the listener through an ‘argument’ or abstract musical story, as it were. Since we employ similar rules of rhetorical logic in our use of language, a fantasia of more than 500 year old is able to communicate meaningfully to us even today.

The more 'fantastic' music on this recording is offset by several suites of dances, all by the Italian lutenist Pietro Paulo Borrono. The pavana is a 'walking' dance, played to help usher the dancers onto the dance floor. A more lively saltarello, linked thematically to the pavana, invariably follows. The saltarello was a popular triple time dance related to the galliard, but exploiting an invigorating alternation between metric groupings of two and three beats throughout, or an alternation between 3/4 and 6/8 meters, in modern terms.

As in the tradition of French composers of the day, Borrono's dances often have formalized names attached to them. This fact may support the suggestion that Borrono possibly served in the French court (along with Albert da Rippe) as the ‘Pierre Paul dit l'Italian,’ known to have been in service to François I during the years 1531-34. A formal title for a dance or set of dances is most often used to note the use of preexisting material in a dance, such as in the case of Borrono’s saltarello ‘La Traditorella,’ heard here. In some cases, any connection with the name has been lost, for example Borrono’s pavana titled, ‘La Desperata.’ Borrono’s suites were most likely composed for, and used as, actual accompaniment for social dances of the time.

Casteliono's book also includes the first appearance of a musical form called the tochata. Both highly virtuosic and improvisatory in nature, the tochata was to become an increasingly important musical form which peaked in its use over a century later, during the Baroque era. (One has only to think of J.S.Bach's Toccata and Fugue in d minor to appreciate the significance of the appearance of this form in Casteliono’s publication.) During the Baroque era, the toccata frequently functioned in place of a prelude to introduce a more formalized piece. In Casteliono’s book, however, the tochata usually appears as the final piece in a suite of grouped dances. One included on this recording is titled, ‘Tochata nel fine de ballo.’

In the end, the most remarkable aspect of Casteliono's book is simply the fantastic variety of great music contained within its covers. The breadth of this variety is highlighted by the contrast between the first two pieces heard on this recording. The opening, a short virtuosic burst of a Tochata by Francesco da Milano, is followed by a very lengthy and involved polyphonic Fantasia by Marco dall'Aquila. In fact, most of the fantasias in Casteliono’s book are grand structures when compared to other lute pieces from the Renaissance period. They contain the most profound instrumental statements the musical world of the Renaissance had to offer. Those who take the time to listen will experience the extraordinary musical landscapes of the past, and be well rewarded for doing so!



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