Jacob Heringman's "Black Cow" takes its name from a Polish song ("Czarna

crova") featured in an intabulation by Valentin Bakfark, one of six

Bakfark intabulations featured on the CD. Heringman has drawn a sampling

from Bakfark's arrangements that reveal's the cosmopolitan nature of

Bakfark's publications: featured are Crecquillon, Clemens non Papa,

Arcadelt, and a wonder from the sixteenth-century motet repertoire,

Josquin's "Qui in altis habitat". Also included are two Bakfark

fantasias and twelve Polish Dances by Matthaeus Waissel. Anyone who has

unsuspectingly sat down with Bakfark for a casual sight-read will

immediately comprehend the challenge of the undertaking by the nature of

the beast. The full-textured, highly imitative subjects of Bakfark's

intabulations represent the heights of Franco-Flemish polyphony through

the generation after Josquin. The subtleties of counterpoint and sound

present challenges to any interpreters(s), and Heringman, armed but with

a six-course lute, has done a valiant job of taming them.

His technique affords a clarity and sense of ease capable of mastering

the left hand requirements--both of strength and stamina for the constant

multiple stops, and the agility necessary for the divisions and passage

work. The playing is very even, and his lute beautifully brings out the

lush sonorities and poignant dissonances of the music, as well as the

graceful ornaments of Bakfark's arrangements.

The pieces by Waissel, presented without any further explanation as

"Polish Dances", are interspersed between intabulations and fantasias,

perhaps as light diversions. They are all pleasant pieces, played with

the same evenness and capability. Nevertheless, although succeeding at

sending the more substantial works into relief, they tend to take on the

character of "musical afterthoughts," and all of them, duple-time

pavanne-like dances, are by interpretation (perhaps by nature?) somewhat

nondescript. Heringman does tend to take some liberties of tempo and

rhythm with the languid "minor-more" dances, but the others, in

general, tend to lack a correlative spark or playfulness. Furthermore, the lack of any commentary about the nature of the dances, their published titles, etc. tends to compound the impression of these as "background" or "filler."

Overall, it is a fine recording of a repertoire that bears further investigating and perhaps offers an encouragement for the timid among us to go another round with Bakfark.

Peter Franklin, Lute Society of America Quarterly, February 2000