CACCINI/PICCININI: New Music and Works for Theorbo – Johannette Zomer, soprano, with Fred Jacobs, theorbo – Channel Classics

by | Oct 20, 2005 | SACD & Other Hi-Res Reviews | 0 comments

CACCINI/PICCININI: New Music and Works for Theorbo – Johannette
Zomer, soprano, with Fred Jacobs, theorbo – Channel Classics
Multichannel SACD CCSSA 21305, 55 min. *****:

The theorbo is a 14-stringed variant of the lute family. The instrument
utilizes complex tunings, with peg arrangements that allow for a broad
tonal palette not possible with the traditional lute. Giulio Caccini
and Alessandro Piccinini were both virtuoso theorbo players and court
musicians in late sixteenth century Florence. Caccini was renowned for
his mastery of Bel Canto singing, and usually accompanied himself and
other vocalists on the theorbo in programs of madrigals and arias.
Piccinini wrote and performed on the theorbo, and was one of the
innovators in perfecting its design. The performers here, Fred Jacobs
and Johannette Zomer, are masters of this early music, and Channel
Classics gives us here another sensational disc of this little-played
repertory.

Listening to this disc is a revelation – from the opening notes, you’re
transported to the recording venue, and the performances unfold before
you with uncanny realism. This is what really great surround sound is
all about – no cheesy gimmicks, just a totally accurate recreation of
the musical event. The program alternates between Caccini’s accompanied
vocal works and Piccinini’s exceptional instrumentals. Johannette
Zomer’s truly liquid vocals are pure magic as she sweetly sings
Caccini’s madrigals, and Fred Jacobs’ mastery of the theorbo is made
evident with every selection. Why these works aren’t better known is
totally beyond me.

This superb disc is entertaining, exceptionally well recorded, and is
an audiophile’s dream. Five stars – very highly recommended!

— Tom Gibbs 
 

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