Handel came to the city of Hamburg in the summer of 1703 and played as a violinist in the theatre at the Gänsemarkt, the local market place. On later occasions, he also played the harpsichord in the orchestra. His first opera – announced as a Singspiel although it has no spoken dialogue – was premiered on 8 January 1705, after being composed in the months directly preceding this. An Italian libretto was written by Giulio Pancieri in Venice in 1691 for Giuseppe Boniventi's opera L'Almira. The German translation used by Handel was made by Friedrich Christian Feustking. The recitatives of the opera are in German, while some of the arias are also in German, others in Italian, as was the custom at the opera house in Hamburg. Almira is the sole example among Handel's many operas with no role for a castrato.
Luis de Milan’s instrument was the Spanish vihuela, shaped like a guitar and tuned like a lute, for the existence of which his book El Maestro (1536) is the earliest known evidence, and one by Antonio de Santa Cruz (seventeenth century, undated) the last. When it was born, and when and why it died, remain unclear. El Maestro was both a collection of pieces and a thoughtful tutor book, containing much valuable information on the music of the time and on the manner of its performance; in some fantasias it is indicated which passages are to be played ‘broadly’ and in time, and which are to be delivered more quickly.
I believe that this was Andrew Lawrence-King's first recording (1986) – a sterling effort which is ample proof of why he went on to become a well-established figure in his field. He has appeared on numerous recordings, including many with Jordi Savall's Hesperian XX, and is currently the director of the Harp Consort. The program is both musically interesting and eminently listenable; and given Lawrence-King's credentials (he won an Organ Scholarship to Selwyn College, Cambridge and completed his studies at the London Early Music Centre), his understanding of the material is unquestionably comprehensive. His technical execution is equally impressive.
"This is one of those albums that can be listened to on two levels: one for the enjoyment of the rich, heavily ornamented sound of Andrew Lawrence-King's Baroque triple harp (the term refers to the instrument's three rows of strings, a configuration that survives today in Welsh folk music), and one for the music involved and how it fit into the musical and cultural universe of its time. (…) The sound picks up every little detail of Lawrence-King's harp, some of which are as quiet as the sounds of a Chinese zither." ~AMG, 4,5/5
In this sequel to their 2009 recording, Jordi Savall and Andrew Lawrence-King are joined by Frank McGuire, bodhrán (Irish frame drum) maker and player. The repertoire is a mixture of traditional Irish and Scottish folk music with some tunes published or dating from the 18th to 20th centuries. Savall has grouped them into sets, each a suite of dances and character pieces, and each performed in a single key at modern pitch.
Thanks to in-depth research into original manuscripts, Jordi Savall reveals the hidden beauties of Irish and Scottish music from 17th to 19th Century. The transcription from fiddle to baroque viol sounds so obvious that everyone realizes the closeness of traditional and ancient repertoires at once. Some of the pieces are irresistibly vivid and virtuosic, some are more melancholic-but all of them deserve the renasissance Jordi Savall offers them in this collection, where he partners with harp virtuoso Andrew Lawrence-King.
Pamela Thorby has been recording for Linn for most of the label’s existence, both as ensemble player and soloist. This time she joins Andrew Lawrence-King (except for a few unaccompanied pieces) in a varied program of music of the 16th and 17th centuries. In his notes, the harpist has an explanation for the disc title in the literary use of the garden as a place of earthly delights (Hieronymus Bosch’s allusion) where lovemaking is accompanied by recorders and plucked strings. His essay lucidly explains some of the terminology too often taken for granted in music of this period. Diego Ortiz, in Trattado de glosas of 1553, illustrated three ways of playing music on instruments; hence the program uses three of his examples at the beginning, middle, and end of this program.
In this collection of dances and short works for Baroque guitar by Spanish composer Santiago de Murcia (1682-1732?), Paul O'Dette plays some pieces just as written and others with an accompaniment of percussion and other guitars based on clues he finds in the music suggesting supplemental instruments, and the resulting selection is delightfully varied. Murcia was a wonderfully versatile composer, as demonstrated in these delicate, reserved laments, formally sophisticated dance forms taken from French suites, and rowdy popular dances with Amerindian and African influences.