Zak Ozmo

Vincenzo Galilei: Well-Tempered Lute, Tones I-IV

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This recording of lute music may be of most interest to fans of the lute and of the Renaissance-Baroque transition era, but it will be of considerable interest to them: it marks the first recording of the Libro d'intavolature di liuto, or Book of Lute Tablatures, of Vincenzo Galilei (1584). Galilei was the father of none other than astronomer Galileo. The work is given the title The Well-Tempered Lute here; that was not Galilei's title, but the music was apparently the first collection intended to demonstrate the possibilities of equal temperament that Bach would exploit so dramatically a century and a half later. Some scholars have opined that this was a primarily theoretical work; as music, it is both technically difficult and a little monotonous, consisting of groups of dances that may or may not have been danced to. Lutenist ┼Żak Ozmo makes a good case for these little pieces as performer's music, differentiating learned counterpoint from works of a more expressive character. His booklet notes lay out the issues involved in bringing this music to life, and explain the role Galilei played in the group of Florentine musical intellectuals that gave birth to the Baroque. Perhaps the most attractive feature of the album is the sound, captured at Southampton's Holy Trinity Church. A church is not optimal for music like this, but Hyperion's engineers get impressive results; the lute almost seems to purr, and there is no extraneous sound. A recommended recording of music that might well have been known to the great lute composers of the early Baroque.

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