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Briefly Noted: Kapsberger to While Away the Hours

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G. G. Kapsberger (et alii), Labirinto d'Amore (arias and toccatas), A. Reinhold, T. Dunford

Alpha 195 (released on June 24, 2014) | 59'17"
A superlative program of lute songs by John Dowland, reviewed this spring in live concert, brought together countertenor Iestyn Davies and lutenist Thomas Dunford (also recorded for Hyperion). Today sees the release of a similar program, this time focused on the Italian lutenist-composer Giovanni Girolamo Kapsberger, who was born a generation after Dowland, uniting Dunford with mezzo-soprano Anna Reinhold. The meat of the program features Dunford, on an archlute, in sensitively phrased renditions of the eight toccatas from Kapsberger's first book of lute tablatures, printed in 1611. In the booklet, along with the informative essay by scholar Alessio Ruffati (and English translations in need of another editor's pass), Dunford acknowledges the guidance of lutenist Paul O'Dette, who has recorded the Kapsberger works for lute, and Hopkinson Smith. One could also mention William Christie and Les Arts Florissants, whose training program for young artists was where Dunford and Reinhold crossed paths. Where the program with Davies was focused on the rarefied, contained sound of his voice, Reinhold uses a somewhat broader edge to her tone, to give a greater scope to the dynamic contrasts of the airs. Since Kapsberger is remembered, quite justly, more as a lutenist than as a vocal composer, the program is sprinkled with vocal selections by composers who knew better what to do with a voice, including Giulio Caccini, Claudio Monteverdi, Barbara Strozzi, and Tarquinio Merula -- the last's Canzonetta spirituale sopra Alla Nanna, a rather gorgeous lament-cum-lullaby sung by the Virgin Mary to the Christ child, turning the amorous tone of the recording in a different direction. The acoustic of the recording space, the Chapelle de l’Hôpital Notre-Dame de Bon Secours in Paris, is resonant and captured in exquisite sound.

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