The Art of the Lute = KAPSBERGER: Lute Pieces; LUTE BOOK; DOWLAND: Lute Works, vol. 1; MOLINARO & GOSTENA: Fantasie, Canzoni e Balli; BACH: Suite in A minor, BWV 995; Partita in E – Paul O'Dette – Harmonia mundi (5 CDs)

by | Jan 14, 2010 | Classical Reissue Reviews | 0 comments

The Art of the Lute = GIOVANNI GIROLAMO KAPSBERGER: Lute Pieces; LORD HERBERT OF CHERBURY’S LUTE BOOK; DOWLAND: Lute Works, vol. 1; SIMONE MOLINARO, GIOVANNI BATTISTA DALLA GOSTENA: Fantasie, Canzoni e Balli; BACH: Suite in A minor, BWV 995; Partita in E (transposed to F), BWV 1006a; Sonata in g minor, BWV 1001 – Paul O’Dette, lute – Harmonia mundi 2907536.40 (5 CDs), 5:54:39 *****:

This five-CD set brings together some of lutenist Paul O’Dette’s best discs since 1990. O’Dette has been at the forefront of the modern lute revival (do you know how many amateur lute societies there are out there?) and has given us some of the finest recordings of the instrument now available. In this bargain set we are treated to the familiar (Bach, Dowland, Lord Herbert) and the not so familiar (Kapsberger, Molinaro, Gostena). Actually, the last three are not exactly unfamiliar to lute fanciers; those who love the instrument are by now pretty much acquainted with the repertory. But even so it doesn’t hurt to review a little.

Kapsberger (c. 1580-1651) was born in Venice to a German nobleman and was one of the most renowned musicians of his time. Only the invective of the theorist Giovanni Battista Doni has besmirched the composer’s reputation, but he has the last word—these pieces are a joy from first to last in true baroque style. The fantasias of Molinaro (c. 1570-1634) and Gostena (1558-93, Molinaro’s uncle) are known for the integrity of their faithful to contrapuntal activity; despite the complexity of the counterpoint, each demands absolute faithfulness to the vocal dexterity of these works, and each uses the entire range of the instrument. O’Dette has done everyone a favor by reviving the memories of these two astonishing musicians. Molinaro’s “Ballo ditto il Conte Orlando” found its way into Respighi’s First Suite of Ancient Airs and Dances.

I won’t dwell on the more well-known items here; take my word for it—these are first class productions and performances that will give great satisfaction to anyone who likes the lute, and make a lot of new fans as well. Recommended with some urgency to those lacking and needing a good introduction to the instrument and one of its chief exponents.

— Steven Ritter

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