CD REVIEW

BLACK COW

Jacob Heringman

Discipline Global Mobile

P.O. Box 5282

Beverly Hills, CA 90209

Rating ****

Perhaps Black Cow should have been named Dark Horse, for it presents the

music of two grossly underappreciated masters of the Mid-European Renaissance, the Transylvanian lutenist Bálint (Valentin) Bakfark and the lyrical Polish dances of his neglected Prussian counterpart, Matthaus Waissel. If ever there was a bold project, this is it. Today, Bakfark remains all but unknown outside Hungary and lute circles due to the extreme technical demands of performing his compositions. Although a Hungarian label (Hungarton) has issued a four volume collection of his complete lute works, Bakfark remains a little-known or understood composer. While not as challenging as BakfarkÕs compositions, WaisselÕs music has been subjected to the same, if not more pervasive, neglect. Of the two composers on Black Cow his music falls far easier on the untrained ear and, unlike BarkfarkÕs complex Italianate compositions, it overflows with Central European folk charm and provides the CD with balance, shading and breadth of vision.

Some years ago, Robert Spencer, a scholar, instrument collector and

multitalented performed who sometimes played lute and bandora with the Julian Bream Consort, sadly passed away. Many in the Early Music revivial movement see the British-trained American Jacob Heringman as a worthy successor to the late Spencer. Just as the spotlight has fallen on the ÒglamourÓ lute composers of the 16th century -- Dowland, Cutting, Milan, Narvaez, and Da Milano -- the limelight has been focused on higher profile performers such as Ronn McFarlane, Jakob Lindberg, and Paul OÕDette, whose recordings have dominated the lute CD market, often to the exclusion of fresh and equally worthy talent. Every bit as versatile and talented as Spencer, Jacob HeringmanÓs Black Cow is irrefutable -- and delightful! -- proof that he is one of the most gifted lutenists gracing the Early music circuit. Ironically, he suffers the same neglect as the composers whose music comprises Black Cow.

A total of twenty-one tracks, each a study in itself, make up this innovative, groundbreaking CD, which, incidentally, is both Mac and PC compatible. The music charms, challenges, and ultimately fascinates us with its complex interweaving of musical textures, moods and modes. In an age where tone deaf rappers and New Age no-talents are multimillionaires, surely a dedicated, disciplined, and courageous talent like Jacob Heringman deserves a wider audience, as does the music of Bakfark and Waissel.

For those who insist on deluding themselves that the heavy-handed tripe that passes for music Òinspired by the RenaissanceÓ that frequently permeates New Age labels constitutes period music, or even music of quality and ignore artists like Heringman, the loss is all yours. In Black Cow we have an intelligently selected collection-- skillfully recorded, masterfully played -- of some of the finest, rarest music treasures of the renaissance, finally unearthed, like amphora, and brought to light. One has only to listen to appreciate that the musical Òroad not takenÓ may prove the most interesting and worthy. Certainly, Black Cow is a CD that requires a bit of patience , especially for the uninitiated,. That patience will be rewarded and your appreciation of the art music of the renaissance deeply enriched.

Marc Cramer, Renaissance Magizine, 2000