Improvisation and magic in Leonardo’s Italy
Music by J. A. Dalza, V. Capirola, B. Tromboncino, J. Ockghem
Bor Zuljan – lutes
Full tickets € 15
Two people booked together € 25
Reduced tickets € 8 (students of music schools, young adults up to 30 years of age, adults above 65 years of age)
In the last years of the 15th Century the lute becomes the preferred instrument of the European courts. Considered by the humanists as the Orpheus’ lyre, the instrument charmed the courtiers with its lush sounds and its sweet harmony.
The earliest music written specifically for these instruments appears in this avant-garde moment on the break of centuries and in 1507 Petrucci prints the first book of lute music by Francesco Spinacino in Venice. Lute players, such as Marco Dall’Aquila, Giovanni Maria Giudeo, Joan Ambrosio Dalza, as well as the cantori al liuto, such as Bartolomeo Tromboncino and Marchetto Cara were sought after by the most important courts such as that of the Este in Ferrara, Gonzaga in Mantova or the Medicis in Florence.
But these composers of the first works for lute were above all masters of improvisation. Even more than in other periods, the musicians, theorists and philosophers of the Renaissance thought that the music emerging from the very moment, ex-tempore, had a stronger impact on the listener. In search of this power of music and the metaphysical experiences described by the neoplatonists such as Marsilio Ficino, the lute players developed complex improvisational techniques and started inventing on the spot free polyphonic compositions such as the ricercari and fantasias, tenor-based dances like the bassadanza, calata or the piva, ornate with diminutions the instrumental versions of the popular vocal tunes and also improvise the tunes and the poetry, themselves as is the case still today with the ottava rima. The improvisation took them to the very moment of creation, the music was alive.
The immense curiosity of the open and irrational mind of this era brought to great discoveries and experimentation in many fields, and music was no exception. People, such as Leonardo Da Vinci, were exploring new sounds and inventing new instruments. Lute took benefit from such exploration, too, and different types and setups of this instrument offered a surprisingly wide pallet of crazy and colorful sounds: far from our common idea of the gentle lute sound, the buzzing bray lute seems to have been the standard at the beginning of the 16th Century, and metal strings were often used to transform the sound of the lute much closer to that of a harpsichord. While playing with right-hand fingers started becoming the norm, plectrum playing was still in vogue and some documents describe the use of a sort of fingerpicks which probably combined the best of both worlds.
With the present recital Bor Zuljan tries to enter in the mindset of the experimenting lutenist of that era and recreate the kaleidoscopic sound world of his lutes by weaving on the spot a new ephemeral web of polyphony. Improvised in its entirety, this programme is an hommage to the period of ultimate cultural and humanist blossom that is the Renaissance.
And the music becomes alive…
Calata ala spagnola (J. A. Dalza)
Calata ala spagnola ditto Terzetti (J. A. Dalza)
Malor me bat (Johannes Ockeghem)
Zephyro Spira (Bartolomeo Tromboncino)
Padoana descordata (da Vincenzo Capirola)
Che Faralla (Michele Pesenti / Vincenzo Capirola)
Passamezzo e Saltarello ala Bolognesa (Giovanni Maria da Crema)
Su, su, leva (Bartolomeo Tromboncino)
Piva (J. A. Dalza)