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LABELS: Harmonia Mundi
WORKS: Fantasie, canzoni e balli
PERFORMER: Paul O’Dette (lute)
Paul O’Dette has a remarkable technique, moving fingers and changing hand-positions so fast


that the ear is deceived into hearing virtually uninterrupted flowing lines from the unwieldy lute. Molinaro’s ‘intabulations’ – decorated transcriptions of vocal music – particularly demand such exceptional skills: he retained the continuous lines of the original canzonas rather than dropping a part or two when things become difficult, and picking them up again later. O’Dette sustains such real counterpoint with deceptive ease. It is, strangely, only in the one piece made familiar by Respighi (in his 1917 suite of Ancient Airs and Dances), that the directional flow seems constrained. The following Saltarello on the same melody is poised and light-footed, as are all the charmingly simple dances.

Particularly striking are variations on the conventional Passamezzo harmonic sequence, and two pieces on Lassus’s ‘Susane un jour’, a fantasia, and a transcription by Molinaro’s uncle, Dalla Gostena. His murder in 1593 seems to have deeply affected his nephew and pupil – Molinaro honoured him by including several of his pieces in this 1599 publication.


As with any ‘archival’ collection of short items, you may prefer to listen selectively. But excellent sound, intimate without exaggerating intrusive noises, held my rapt attention through an uninterrupted hearing. George Pratt