Francesco da Milano: Lute Music

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COMPOSERS: Francesco Da Milano
LABELS: Gimell
ALBUM TITLE: Francesco da Milano: Lute Music
WORKS: Lute Music: Fantasia; Que voulez vous dire de moi; Tu discois que je mourroye; Ricecar; De mon triste desplaisir; Fantasia de mon triste; etc
PERFORMER: Paul O’Dette (lute)


Known as Il divino for his ‘divine’ playing, Francesco da Milano was lutenist at the papal court during the first half of the 16th century and one of the most fêted musicians of his day. He finds a most sympathetic champion in Paul O’Dette, whose playing, research and direction has justly won him a litany of awards, critical plaudits and near divine status, too, among lutenists today.

For this collection, Paul O’Dette has arranged Milano’s individual pieces into ‘proto suites’ consisting of fantasias, ricercars and arrangements of then-fashionable French chansons, so bringing together highly crafted counterpoint (informed by Franco-Flemish vocal polyphony), an ornate, rhapsodic style, garlanded with filigree passagework and fragile cascades of sound, and the buoyant rhythms and melodies of popular songs.

O’Dette captures this music’s improvisatory quality with effortless finger-work and fluent ornamentation (not for nothing did he start out as a rock guitarist). Above all, he reveals the underlying rhetoric of this vocally inspired music, with its expressive varietas, its combination of pathos and logical invention, and its textually driven rhythms and phrasing, which O’Dette articulates with apt decorum. These are compelling, musical orations, and the lucid recording enhances O’Dette’s silky sound – worthy of Il divino himself.


Kate Bolton