Rolf Lislevand – Diminuito

Our rating 
4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0

COMPOSERS: Capirola,Dalza,Milano,Mudarra Ortiz,Robinson,Terzi & anonymous
WORKS: Madrigals, chansons and instrumental music by Capirola, Dalza, Milano, Mudarra Ortiz, Robinson, Terzi & anonymous
PERFORMER: Rolf Lislevand (lutes, vihuela de mano), Linn Andrea Fuglseth, Anna Maria Friman (voice), Giovanna Pessi (triple harp), Marco Ambrosini (nyckelharpa), Thor-Harald Johnsen (chitarra battente, vihuela de mano, lutes), Michael Behringer (clavichord, organ), Bjørn Kjellemyr (colascione), David Mayoral (percussion)


Diminution was the practice of embellishing a melody into a much more elaborate form with faster movement and shorter rhythmic values, a device not uncommon in jazz. It was an invention of Renaissance musicians, who would presume that listeners had the original melody constantly in mind, and it transformed the role of plucked instruments, previously considered incapable of playing real melody because, Lisveland says, ‘after the first and only attack of the string, the player possesses no further control …[the] sound will never be able to sing as a violin, cello, trumpet voice or oboe’. 

Lisveland and his colleagues manage to create music that sings and is full of grace, feeling and lyricism, even on the tracks where the lutes and harps are not aided by the voices and organ. Some of the pieces seem very modern rhythmically and there are places where the lower-register timbres sound startlingly electronic.


It is never easy to place ourselves in the minds of listeners who first heard a musical innovation, nor to know quite how the music would have sounded originally, since we can never entirely rid ourselves of modern sensibilities, but these fine performances – fresh, animated, elegant and virtuosic without being flashy – are utterly persuasive. Barry Witherden