Various: Le intavolature di Ottaviano Petrucci: lute & vihuela works

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LABELS: Symphonia
ALBUM TITLE: Collection: Adieu Mes Amours
WORKS: Le intavolature di Ottaviano Petrucci: lute & vihuela works
PERFORMER: Paolo Cherici (lute, vihuela)
This disc celebrates the first-ever printing of music in lute tablature, by Petrucci in Venice. The music of the first two books (1507) consists of transcriptions by Francesco Spinacino of northern European courtly chansons together with instrumental interludes. The fourth book (the third is lost) is by Joan Ambrosio Dalza, in a markedly contrasting spirit of Italian songs and dances.


Cherici finds imaginative solutions to the challenge of, here, 34 pieces, most under two minutes. First, he creates groups – an unmeasured ‘tastar’ checking tuning and introducing key, an associated ‘recercar’ to ‘search out’ a mood for a subsequent song transcribed and elaborated for lute. He collects together series of dances – an elegant Pavana, a Saltarello with arresting cross-rhythms, and a foot-tapping Piva. Then, he uses three instruments, a vihuela, its guitar-shaped body fuller-sounding than two softer, more reedy lutes, one with a strikingly transparent tone for a single piece, a dancing ‘Calata’.


Song transcriptions, whether courtly chansons or lighter Italian frottole, suffer inevitably from the loss of their initial inspiration – words. Petrucci’s printing allowed representation of an alternative expressiveness, florid decorative ‘diminutions’ which Cherici plays with a pliable, if occasionally over-predictable, pulse. The supple, light-footed dances are a delight. George Pratt