It is hard to know where to start praising this recording. The music? The instrument? The performance?
The music, by three masters of the early baroque – Giovanni Kapsperger, Bellerofonte Castaldi and Alessandro Piccinini – is fascinating. Especially how each of the three roughly contemporaneous composers employ dissonance in a manner that often seems to look centuries ahead. It is completely engrossing music, with subtle touches throughout. For example, listen up for the marvelous effect of the upward glissando in the Capona by Kapsperger (track 25).
The instrument is a chitarrone, which is lute-like, but with fourteen strings and a five foot neck (in the case of the instrument employed on this album). Consider that the bass strings on these instruments can be up to six feet in length! Yes, the low tones are very impressive. I could have started this recommendation praising the musicianship of Jakob Lindberg, who is a long established and illustrious master in this repertoire. But it doesn’t matter where I begin writing about how much I enjoyed this new BIS recording. The result is seventy-five minutes of completely absorbing listening.
Its overall length (upwards of 160 cm) and great number of strings (up to 16 courses) makes the chitarrone one of the more spectacular instruments of the early baroque. The name probably means ‘large kithara’, after the instrument played by the Classical Greek poets, and it was first developed as a bass lute in order to accompany singing and recitative – indeed it appears to have become the favourite instrument in Italy for accompanying the voice by 1600. It also enjoyed a short-lived but rich flowering as a solo instrument, however, to which the three virtuosi of the album title all contributed greatly, as performers as well as composers.
Between 1604 and 1640, Giovanni Girolamo Kapsperger (also known as Johann Hieronymus Kapsberger), Alessandro Piccinini and Bellerofonte Castaldi published a number of collections of chitarrone music, from which Jakob Lindberg has chosen some favourite dances, arias, toccatas and passacaglias. Combined into seven suites, they provide rich opportunity to enjoy the particular timbre and the special playing techniques of this splendid instrument, the chitarrone.
Highly regarded both for his live performances and his many recordings, Jakob Lindberg has a long-standing interest in the many varieties of lutes, including lute mandorée, orpharion and archlute, and has now dedicated himself to researching their relative – research which informs both the performances and Lindberg’s own liner notes.
Jakob Lindberg was born in Djursholm in Sweden and developed his first passionate interest in music through the Beatles. He started to play the guitar and soon became interested in the classical repertoire. From the age of fourteen… read more
Johannes Hieronymus Kapsberger
Composer: Johannes Hieronymus Kapsberger
Johannes Hieronymus Kapsberger (c. 1580 – 17 January 1651) was a German-Italian viruoso performer and composer of the early Baroque period. A prolific and highly original composer, Kapsberger is chiefly remembered today for his lute, theorbo and chitarrone music, which… read more
Composer: Bellerofonte Castaldi
Bellerofonte Castaldi (Modena, ca. 1581 – Modena, 27 September 1649) was an Italian composer, poet and lutenist. He wrote male parts in his songs for tenors as he was opposed to… read more
Composer: Alessandro Piccinini
Alessandro Piccinini (30 December 1566 – ca. 1638), was an Italian lutenist and composer. He is best known for his two volumes of lute music: Intavolatura di Liuto et di Chitarrone, libro primo (Bologna, 1623) and Intavolaturo di Liuto (Bologna, 1639), the latter published posthumously… read more
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