Inviolata – Vocal and choral works arranged for lute and vihuela
Jacob Heringman (lute)
Inventa INV1004 65:07 mins
To mark the 500th anniversary of the death of Josquin des Prez in 1521, American-born lutenist Jacob Heringman presents an unusual selection of lute intabulations based on motets and Mass movements by Josquin in honour of the Virgin Mary. Intabulations are arrangements of sacred vocal music, scaled down for the lute or for its guitar-shaped Spanish cousin, the vihuela. They were particularly popular in the 16th century, and Josquin’s polyphonic works were scattered across Europe in this way; indeed, this recording features intabulations by the Germans Hans Gerle and Simon Gintzler, the Spaniards Alonso Mudarra and Enríquez de Valderrábano, and – very much in the spirit of the Renaissance – Heringman himself, whose painstaking arrangements sound perfectly idiomatic.
Such intabulations were no doubt originally played for private devotion and contemplation, and Heringman imbues these fragrant Marian works with a sense of hushed reverence, capturing their intimate and profoundly introspective qualities. The strands of Josquin’s polyphonic web (often submerged in vocal performances) are subtly illuminated by the lute’s silky strings, and Heringman’s clean, precise articulation highlights the details. The soft resonance of the six-course Renaissance lute is offset by the dryer more twangling sound of the vihuela, fittingly used for arrangements by Iberian composers.
My only caveat is that Heringman’s studious and deliberately measured approach can be at the expense of the music’s line; one might have wished for more lyrically spun phrasing. These quibbles apart, the disc offers a delightfully soothing hour.