The works on the present recording have been selected from the
contents of two manuscripts produced in Tuscany during the late
sixteenth century. The sources are largely the work of a single
scribe whose name has been lost to us. While originating from
the same hand, they are different from one another in important
Siena Lute Book (The Hague, Gemeentemuseum, MS 28.B.39)
is a lengthy anthology of over 150 items that was compiled in
Siena. Its highly organized layout suggests careful planning and
that it may have been assembled as a preservation copy, a repository
for tablatures that could be recopied into other manuscripts.
It begins with fantasias and ricercars grouped according to mode
and intabulations of French chansons, all for six-course lute.
There follows a section of fantasias, toccatas, contrapunti upon
La spagna, and untitled dances, some of which require
a lute with a seventh course.
of the wide range and high quality of its contents as well as
its careful copying, the Siena Lute Book is an outstanding
source of lute music. It dates from c. 1590, but the time period
of composition for its contents spans much of the 1500s. There
are a number of pieces by some of the most famous lutenists of
the early sixteenth-century: Francesco da Milano, Albert de Rippe,
and Perino Fiorentino. The source also has arrangements of ensemble
ricercars by the organist Giulio [da Modena] Segni, whose works
enjoyed some popularity as lute intabulations in mid sixteenth-century
publications. The chanson intabulations include those of music
by Clement Janequin, Thomas Crecquillon, and Pierre Sandrin, composers
whose songs were popular with lutenists and other instrumentalists
from the middle to the end of the sixteenth century. Pieces more
contemporary with the copying of the manuscript are those by the
Neapolitans Fabritio Dentice and Giulio Severino as well as those
by the Sienese composer Andrea Feliciani. Some of the works in
the source are found nowhere else, which makes it an invaluable
collection of sixteenth-century lute music.
pieces in the manuscript are contrapunti (highly ornate melodies)
composed upon the famous dance tune La spagna. For
the present recording Jacob Heringman has reconstructed tenors
(accompaniments incorporating La spagna) for two of
these contrapunti to create lute duets; this is likely to have
been their intended manner of performance.
other source for the works on the present recording is a manuscript
preserved at the Dolmetsch Library in Haslemere (MS II C23). In
its present statesome pages are missingit is a modest
collection of less than two dozen pieces for lute and guitar.
Most of the compositions are for six-course lute, and they are
in the handwriting of the Siena Lute Book scribe.
A different hand was responsible for two pieces for seven-course
lute, and a third hand copied a guitar tablature (with alfabeto
notation) into the source.
contains fantasias, ricercars, dance pieces, solo intabulations
of vocal music, and arrangements for voice and lute. While the
casual arrangement and eclectic nature of the manuscripts
tablatures indicate that it may have belonged to an amateur rather
than a professional musician, the technical demands of its music
suggest that the owner was a very proficient lutenist. Perhaps
the Siena Lute Book scribe copied pieces into Haslemere
for a highly gifted student or friend. The manuscript may have
been the lute book of a member of the Medici family or household,
since the Medici insignia appears in the upper left corner of
the first page of tablature.
of the ways Haslemere differs from the Siena Lute Book
is that its intabulated vocal works include Italian pieces rather
than French chansons. Among them are Nasce la pena mia
by Alessandro Striggio, Vivo sol di speranza by Giovane
Domenico da Nola (it is incorrectly attributed to Orlando di Lasso
in Haslemere), and Vestiva i colli by Palestrina.
These mid sixteenth-century madrigals were favorites with lutenists
as solo intabulations and in arrangements for voice and lute throughout
the second half of the century.
program of the present recording features works that represent
the breadth of the repertory in the manuscripts they are drawn
from. They include classics by Francesco da Milano
and Perino Fiorentino, later works by Fabritio Dentice and Giulio
Severino, chanson intabulations, and dance pieces. Thus, the program
gives us an idea of the richness of lute practice in Tuscany at
the end of the sixteenth century.
Richard K. Falkenstein © 2003
from the lute player
This piece is attributed in the manuscript to Francesco da Parigi,
whose identity is a mystery. Five pieces are attributed to him
in this source, but some of these are known to be by Francesco
da Milano or Albert de Rippe. This Fantasia, actually not much
like the work of either Francesco or De Rippe, is a fine piece,
with a marvellous balance of rhapsodic passagework, and sophisticated
counterpoint and dissonance.
Next is an anonymous Fantasia which seems related to another Fantasia
(21) in the Siena manuscript, attributed to Perino Fiorentino.
This fantasia is anonymous, but strongly reminiscent of Francesco
da Milano's style.
This remarkable four-part Fantasia from the Medici Lute Book is
written in strict and somewhat dense four-part counterpoint. Either
it was written by a lutenist/composer with an unusually strong
commitment to contrapuntal principles, or it is an intabulation
of a pre-existing four-part instrumental piece. To test these
ideas, I (re)arranged the piece for four instruments, and can
report that it is also highly effective performed in this way.
The Passemezo del giorgio (or Zorzi) was
a well-known chord progression (or ground) at the time. It survives
in many versions for ensemble, for keyboard, for cittern and for
Fantasia 23 shares its first few bars with those of a Fantasia
in the Barbarino Manuscript (Cracow, Mus. Ms. 40032), there attributed
to Dentice. This has led to the assumption that Fantasia 23 is
by Dentice. However, because only the first few bars are the same,
and because there are other instances of sections of Fantasias
by one composer migrating into Fantasias by another, I don't believe
we can necessarily assume that this piece is by Dentice. But the
extremely high quality, and the stylistic similarity to other
works by Dentice, suggest that it may indeed be a case in which
Dentice wrote two different Fantasias which share their opening
+ 14. The two lute duets are settings of La Spagna. The manuscript
includes only the top line for each of these (and for two more
like them), but clearly these top lines are contrapunti
or trebles on the famous and extraordinarily long-lived La Spagna
ground, and, like the countless other Spagna settings that survive
(including the one for two lutes by Francesco da Milano), are
meant to be accompanied by the Spagna tenor in some form. I have
here reconstructed lute accompaniments on that basis, choosing
to place the Spagna tenor at the bottom of the second lute parts
as a bass line, rather than embedding it in the texture. Interestingly,
some of the very last surviving settings of La Spagna (from the
early 17th century) are Neapolitan. As the Siena Lute Book has
a strong Neapolitan connection (through the presence of music
by Severino and Dentice), it is tempting to speculate that these
anonymous lute Spagnas might have a Neapolitan link.
Although this piece is labelled in the manuscript as a Fantasia,
it sounds suspiciously like an intabulation of an as yet unidentified
three-part vocal original, in the light style of a villanescha
or villanella or chanson rustique. The piece bears a passing resemblance
to Passereau's Il est bel et bon, and an even stronger
relation to Certon's Je ne fus jamais si ayse.
For me, Severino's Fantasia (42) is the high point of the programme.
It sums up perfectly the emotional profundity, sophistication
and sweetness to be found in the late renaissance Italian lute
This delightful Fantasia occurs twice in the manuscript (40 and
132). Strangely, it is attributed to Francesco da Parigi the first
time it appears, and to Francesco da Milano the second time. Interestingly,
the version attributed to Parigi has no bar lines. This may be
significant: of the five pieces in Siena attributed to Parigi,
three have no bar lines. This is a high proportion when one looks
at the total number of pieces in Siena which are without bar lines,
which is very small--there are only two others (discounting the
later seven-course pieces at the end of the manuscript): 22 and
This piece survives in many versions from various parts of Europe.
John Dowland seems to have appropriated it for his famous almain
Lady Hunsdon's Puffe.
Again, many versions survive of this galliard, in manuscripts
from all over Europe. These three pieces (tracks 23-25) are the
last items in the Siena Lute Book, and, together with the four
settings of La Spagna which precede them, are the only dance music
in the manuscript.
I conclude with another Dentice Fantasia (73). This splendid piece,
with its triple-time dance-like middle section, its nearly three-octave
range, and its technical demands, must surely be one of the finest
pieces in the manuscript, and, indeed, one of the most memorable
Fantasias of the period.
Heringman (c) 2004
While I was preparing, performing and recording this music, the
West was planning and executing its war in Iraq. This has served
to remind me that the lute was brought to the West more than a
thousand years ago, from Eastern centres of high culture
notably Baghdad; European lutenists learned their art from Eastern
masters, whose influence formed part of the basis of a renaissance
lute tradition (and a modern guitar tradition). Thus the lute
and its music powerfully symbolize a harmonious and fruitful meeting
of East and West. I dedicate this recording to the memory of Ziryab
(c790-852) and other lutenists of the distant past who brought
us the lute, and to the cause of East/West harmony.
This project would not have been possible without the kindness,
generosity and patience of Adrian Hunter, John Robinson, Lynda
Sayce, Richard Falkenstein, and, especially, my wife, Susanna
Pell. My grateful thanks to you all.
also to Pat O'Brien, Kenneth Be, Alain Veylit, John Griffiths,
Hugh O'Donnell, Leo Stevenson, John Buckman, Melanne Mueller,
Simon Foster, Thomas Pope, Dick Hoban, Clifford Bartlett, Douglas
Alton Smith, Christiane Marks, C. Abbott Conway, Fabrice Fitch,
and Karen Wentworth (along with all of the teachers and fellow
students at the Alexander Technique Studio in London).
This disc was recorded at the Church of St. Michael and all Angels,
Great Tew, Oxfordshire, on 19-20 September 2003 (tracks 1-3, 8-9,
13-14, 18-20), 7 November 2003 (tracks 4-7, 15-17, 23-25), and
15 December 2003 (tracks 10-12, 21-22, 26).
tracks 1-3, 8-9, 13-14, 18-20: six-course lute in g' by Grant
Tomlinson, Vancouver, 2002, after early sixteenth-century models
tracks 4-6, 15-17: six-course lute in e' by Michael Lowe, Oxfordshire,
1999, after Frei (early sixteenth century)
tracks 7, 23-25: seven-course lute in g' by Martin Haycock, East
Sussex, 2001, after Gerle (c. 1580)
tracks 10-12, 21-22, 26: six-course lute in g' by Andrew Rutherford,
New York, 1997, after Gerle (c. 1580)
four lutes were strung entirely in gut from Gamut Strings (http://www.gamutstrings.com/)
engineered, edited and mastered by Adrian Hunter.
duet arrangements (tracks 13 and 14) copyright Jacob Heringman.
and art direction by Hugh O'Donnell. Cover photograph by Susanna