Thursday, February 15, 2007

A very good year for vihuelists

Any CD with sleeve notes beginning like this gets my vote - '1536 was a very good year for vihuelists and lutenists in Europe. Luis Milan’s El Maestro (Valencia, Spain), Hans Newsidler’s Ein Newgeordent Kunst Lautenbuch (N├╝rnberg, Germany) and Francesco da Milano’s Intavolatura di Liuto (Naples, Milan, & Venice, Italy) were all published in 1536. This parallel outpouring of music created a wellspring of repertoire for aristocrats, merchants, students, and members of the mobile elite'.

This Gagliano Recordings CD takes its title from the year 1536, and features Portland based Jeffrey Ashton (right) playing the three works for vihuela and lute from that very good year. His wonderful recital flies in the face of current fashions. Look elsewhere for improvisation and realisation, but don’t expect authentic instruments either, because Ashton transcribes the music, and follows the example of Glenn Gould and many others by playing early music on a modern instrument, in this case a guitar by Jeffrey Elliott.

This is important music, lovingly transcribed, beautifully played, and with informative sleeve notes by the performer. My only minor niggle is that the sound from the Billy Oskay Studios in Portland, Oregon is a touch close and dry, this music really needs more air and reverberation. But that is a small complaint, and if you follow the previous link you will see that the view from the studio probably compensated for the dry acoustics.

This excellent disc from a small independent label sums up the conundrum of today’s market. You don’t need a rock star vocalist or an improvising percussionist to make a beautiful early music CD. But you do need them to sell it to today’s aristocrats, merchants, students, and members of the mobile elite.

Now follow this link for downloads of more beautiful guitar music
1536 is on the Gagliano Recordings label – GR536. I bought my copy from Amazon.com, it is not available in record stores in Europe. Any copyrighted material on these pages is included for "fair use", for the purpose of study, review or critical analysis only, and will be removed at the request of copyright owner(s). Report broken links, missing images and other errors to - overgrownpath at hotmail dot co dot uk

2 comments:

Pliable said...

Do music blogs affect CD sales?

I don't know the answer to that question. But here is an interesting indication.

When I wrote this article two hours ago I checked Amazon.com, and they were showing stock available of 1536.

A lot of people have read the article in the last two hours, and Amazon are now out of stock.

Pliable said...

Well yes, it does appear people buy books and music recommended by blogs.

Within minutes of posting the previous comment this email came in from a regular reader in Paris.

Drummond - Thanks to Amazon and your recommendations, I am reading his bio, which is pretty funny. This is not the first time that "normal people" write in such an entertaining way about music.