26 pieces are here, mostly from one carefully-copied late 16th-Century manuscript that contains more than 150 pieces of "wide range and high quality" known as The Siena Lute Book. Very fine notes by Richard Falkenstein describe the music, and by Jacob Heringman its selection, arrangement, and performance. Using four different lutes (all by modern makers after 16th Century exemplars), Heringman brings this music to life with wonderful playing that is intimate, playful, and bold by turns. The music demands great technical prowess as well as subtle sensitivity to color and shading.
Several pieces are lute settings of chansons, and the longest is 'Orsus Orsus' ("Or sus, or sus vous dormes") by Clement Janequin. The intricacy of the anonymous intabulation is matched by Heringman's skills in executing ornaments and adding layers of texture to the sound. Hearing this makes me want to get his CD of Josquin lute settings (recommended by John Barker in Jan/Feb 2001 not only for the quality of the playing but for the insights the intabulations bring to the original pieces). Ardella Crawford (July/Aug 1998) also praised Heringman's "excellent reading" of Holborne. Other pieces range from short dance movements to free-form fantasias and contrapuntal ricercars. The program is very well chosen and sequenced.
Two comments about non-16th-Century references in the booklet notes: one commercial and one cultural-political. First, I am interested to learn that magnatune.com is credited with making this recording possible. I know this company from their policies of only selecting quality music (of many genres) to sell on their website and allotting half of the purchase price to the artist. Second, remarking on the East-West conflict of our day, the lutenist adds his personal reflection on his instrument's origins, "brought to the West more than 1000 years ago from Eastern centers of high culture--notably Baghdad".
C. Moore, American Record Guide, May 1 2005