bright and early

[Music by Spinacino, Dalza & Cara]
Hopkinson Smith
naïve E7545

Petrucci, a name immortalised in the minds of a generation of grateful computer-literate amateur performers, was the first printer of polyphonic music. A series of superb publications began 1501, but by 1507 pressure of work or complacency had set in, and the two sets of Spinacino’s Libri for lute are full of misprints and errors. The Swiss-American lutanist Hopkinson Smith has engaged in much reconstruction work to restore Spinacino’s music to a performable state, and the results are charming and idiomatic lute music. Also pleasantly lyrical is the music of Joan Ambrosio Dalza, to whom Smith ascribes the status of tavern lutanist, and whose intabulations for lute of various chansons are relatively simple and accessible. The CD ends with the rather ‘spacey’ tastar de corde by Dalza, hardly a coherent piece at all and perhaps one of these exercises, which you also find in harp repertoire, primarily designed to check the tuning. It is interesting to note the degree of subtlety and refinement achieved in Italian lute music at very beginning of the 16th century, and how through the efforts of Petrucci, rushed though they were in this case, its influence spread rapidly through the whole of Europe.

D. James Ross

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