The world-premiere recording of an early 17th-century collection of music conceived for a richly varied ensemble of lutes.
Adriaan Smout (1578-1646) was a philosopher, teacher and preacher who collected and transcribed the music that came his way from across Europe. He lived, worked and died in Rotterdam, a city that has always been well-placed to capitalise on international commercial and cultural links to support a distinguished history of music publishing.
The contents of Smout’s collection, which found its way into the Thysius library in Leiden, embraces musical forms amongst the most popular of the late-Renaissance and early-Baroque periods: songs, branles, galliards and allemandes. There is also a bergamasque (a shepherd’s song) which, in its extreme simplicity, has been taken by the Italian musicians of the Pacoloni Ensemble as an opportunity for improvisation and variation. The original authors have nearly all been lost in the mists of time, except for Smout’s transcription of ‘Can she excuse’, a song by John Dowland.
Up to four lutes are used, and several tracks are enhanced by percussion which would have lent colour and rhythmic strength to this music played in its own time: the manuscript as a whole has been freshly edited, and taken as the basis for richly textured and melodically elaborated performances which do not confine themselves to the literal indications of the tablature.
Led by their founder-director Roberto Cascio, the musicians of the Pacoloni Ensemble have been performing together for two decades. They are all members of other early-music ensembles who come together to explore the treasure-trove of little-known repertoire written during the golden age of the lute.
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SMOUT: Thysius Lute Book Music for 1, 2, 3 and 4 lutes from the manuscript ‘Thysius’