Bakfark is hardly a household name, unless yours is a sixteenth-century Polish household, but Heringman’s obvious enthusiasm for his music is infectious enough. The intabulations presented here are finely abstracted from the vocal works from which they are derived and their relative formality is delicately leavened by the interspersed dance vignettes by Waissel. The presentations of the music is intriguing in its contradictions. The CD’s enigmatic title (which is in fact simply a translation of the title of one of Bakfark’s intabulations) will confound those accustomed to recordings which have titles which at least attempt to describe their contents. No matter, perhaps, as the title is omitted from the cover of the booklet altogether and Heringman’s name is in alarmingly small type, thus ensuring that his not inconsiderable track record--his recording history with Virgin, ASV and others, his performing career with everyone from the Dufay Collective to Barbara Bonney--is not capitalized upon, for good or ill. The austerely contemporary cover design positively shouts non-conformity, almost wilfully repelling those who expect their lute music to be wrapped up in a period painting and garlanded with clip-art trefoils. So much, then, for quite a lot.
Within, the situation looks up. The music is brightly and lucidly recorded, although the guitar-like tone occasionally imparted to the instrument is not to my taste. The melodious, tumbling metricality of the intabulations is typical of the lute music of the period and makes for attractive listening. However, Bakfark’s works in particular display a considerable technical complexity (which Heringman fearlessly augments with the required ornamentations), such as passages which require the stopping of a single string within a unison pair.
The booklet notes are an excellent collection of informal articles on the music performed here and on the lute in general, reinforcing the impression that this recording, coming as it does from a label associated with progressive rock music, is aimed to a large extent at the non-specialist. That said, the near-total absence of both composers from the catalogue to date also suggests that specialists may also wish to seek out this item.
Roger Thomas, International Record Review, March 2000