from Gramophone, November 2000
"A disc of Josquin’s vocal music played in period arrangements for lute by the highly talented Jacob Heringman"
During the 15th century the lute emerged as a solo instrument in its own right and had therefore to assemble a repertory. To dances and ‘character’ pieces (usually thinly disguised dances) were added in Fantasias and other ‘quasi-improvised’ pieces, the first quintessentially instrumental forms, and intabulations; these last were instrumental arrangements of pre-existing vocal works for as many as six voices. This clearly entailed problems when the recipient was a six-course lute (calling for both ingenuity and scholarly discretion on the part of the arranger), and not the least of these was the lute’s relatively limited sustaining power. Long notes, in which such vocal music abounded, would die at an ‘early age’. To maintain interest and keep the action going at such points it was necessary to introduce diminutions and ornamental passages. Creative arrangements indeed! While the works of a wide range of composers were thus reworked, those of Josquin were frequently targeted, probably because of their extraordinary popularity; had Copyright Law then been in force he would have become a rich man. There have been numerous recordings of intabulations but this is, to my knowledge, the first to focus on single composer.
This is primarily a programme for lovers of this music in general and of the lute in particular, predominantly solemn and without quick-fire excitement, played by Jacob Heringman with outstanding musicality and warm, clear sound, and superbly recorded.