The American lutenist, Hopkinson Smith, began as a teenager he began to study the classical guitar and in his early 20's, he became acquainted with the lute which he started to learn by himself. He majored in musicology at Harvard and graduated with honors in 1972. In 1973, Hopkinson Smith came to Europe to devote himself to the lute in earnest. He worked in Catalonia with Emilio Pujol, a profound pedagogue in the 19th century tradition who instilled in him a sense for higher artistic values, and in Switzerland with Eugen Dombois whose sense of happy organic unity between performer, instrument and historic period has had a lasting effect on him. From the mid 1970's, he was involved in various ensemble projects including the founding of the ensemble Hespèrion XX and a ten-year collaboration with Jordi Savall. This collaboration led to important experiences in chamber music which were a creative complement to his work as a soloist.
Duo Ahlert & Schwab have dedicated themselves, through their choice of instruments, to one of the smallest repertoires to be found in the classical music pantheon, that for guitar and mandolin. On this Naxos' effort, Daniel Ahlert plays the mandolin, and Birgit Schwab takes Baroque guitar and archlute parts in works of Sylvius Leopold Weiss and Giovanni Hoffmann. Being German, they identify Giovanni Hoffmann under the wholly inauthentic name of "Johann Hoffmann," which can lead to some confusion.
Narciso Yepes was one of the finest virtuoso classical guitarists of the twentieth century, generally ranked second after Andrés Segovia.
…The Burwell lute tutor states: "[On] other instruments we sing, but on the lute we speak". That is exactly what Bailes does, and in a very eloquent manner.
Compiled between about 1620 and 1650 by the Munich painter Albrecht Wörl, this manuscript collection of early 17th century baroque lute music includes dances and song settings by many of the earliest generation of lutenist-composers working in the ‘new tunings’ (accords nouveaux). Wörl’s ability to notate the pieces he collected with accuracy seems to have been severely hampered by the rapid degradation of his eyesight. Because of this, and the fact that Wörl’s lute book contains many unique anonymous works, this manuscript, which is full of beautiful music has been overlooked for far too long. Canadian lutenist Evan Plommer presents reconstructed and revitalized versions of 36 pieces in 5 different tunings for baroque lute, including Wörl’s elaborations as well as those of his own making.
This new solo album of world-renowned Japanese lute master Toyohiko Satoh features music by the German baroque composer and lutenist Esaias Reusner (1639-1679), who published two volumes of compositions for solo lute. The pieces of this CD are taken from “Neue Lautenfrüchte”. Reusner’s style is as interesting as it is special and unusual, compared to works of his contemporaries. His pieces are mostly short, sober and pragmatic, showing a very clear and unostentatious attitude.
This recording of lute music may be of most interest to fans of the lute and of the Renaissance-Baroque transition era, but it will be of considerable interest to them: it marks the first recording of the Libro d'intavolature di liuto, or Book of Lute Tablatures, of Vincenzo Galilei (1584). Galilei was the father of none other than astronomer Galileo. The work is given the title The Well-Tempered Lute here; that was not Galilei's title, but the music was apparently the first collection intended to demonstrate the possibilities of equal temperament that Bach would exploit so dramatically a century and a half later. Some scholars have opined that this was a primarily theoretical work; as music, it is both technically difficult and a little monotonous, consisting of groups of dances that may or may not have been danced to. Lutenist Žak Ozmo makes a good case for these little pieces as performer's music, differentiating learned counterpoint from works of a more expressive character.
You might think that Handel's Water Music, HWV 348-350, arguably the most familiar piece of Baroque music (the Four Seasons of Vivaldi can give it a run for its money, but its popularity is more recent), has received every possible interpretation. And you would be wrong, as the musicians of the Akademie für Alte Musik Berlin have shown in this Harmonia Mundi release, precisely recorded in Berlin's Teldex studio. You get a steady parade of innovations here, marked overall by, but not in the least restricted to, blisteringly fast tempos that turn the horn-dominated movements into tests of virtuosity. Unexpected dynamic contrasts and the unusual rhythmic treatment of the "Overture" to the Suite No. 1 (sample track one) are other novelties, but this veteran group is not out for shock value. The Akademie für Alte Musik Berlin operate without a conductor, and their coordination in these crisp prestos is worth the price of admission in itself. Their ability to act as one in really unusual shapings of each individual movement is remarkable, and the treacherous horn parts are near perfection in the hands of Erwin Wieringa and Miroslav Rovenský.