The stature of Josquin des Prez (c.1450-1521) is without question, indeed he is credited with being the mastermind behind the transition of music from of the Middle Ages into the renaissance. His output is for the most part vocal music, masses and motets, so this recording is unusual in as much as it is made up of settings of vocal music in a purely instrumental context, that being the solo lute. This process known as intabulation was undertaken by a number of 16th century lutenists and vihuelaistas (the vihuela being the Spanish equivalent of the lute) that obviously held Josquin des Prez in high regard. Surprisingly enough we are told by Jacob Heringman, in the inlay notes, that intabulation represents the largest proportion of all the known lute literature and this disc being the first to be made up entirely of intabulations.
Some of the composers who took Josquin des Prez' music as inspiration are familiar to me such as Valentin Bakfark (c.1526-1576) from Transylvania, Hans Newsidler (c. 1509-1563) from Germany and the Spaniards Miguel Fuenllana (early 16th century) and Alonso Mudarra (c. 1510-1580). Probably the best known work contained here is Luys de Narváez' (fl.1530-1550) 'La cancion del Emperador' taken from his collection 'El Delphin de Música' published in Valladolid, in 1538, this being a setting of Josquin de Prez' 'Mille regretz' said to have been a favourite song of Charles V of Spain.
Jacob Heringmans authentic sound and playing style suits this music perfectly, although it does take repeated listening to reap the rewards. For the most part though I do feel that this disc is more of a historical document for early music enthusiasts and scholars rather than a purely entertaining experience.
Praise must be given to the excellent presentation of this disc, the inlay notes are informative and the photographs of the lute by Jacob Heringman himself are a delight.