Nell’ambito del Festival Music@villaromana insieme a Magnus Andersson abbiamo avuto il piacere di presentare due nuovi brani in prima assoluta per chitarra elettrica e tiorba!

“Serendipia del olvido” di José Manuel Serrano, opera commissionata da music@villaromana

“Prelude (girl touching clouds)” di Christopher Elgh

Grazie a Francesco Dillon e a Emanuele Torquati per il bellissimo Festival!

come l'alma frammentoE’ stato un onore partecipare alla prima esecuzione assoluta del “Tancredi appresso il Combattimento” di Claudio Ambrosini, una composizione che nasce come prosecuzione del Combattimento di Monteverdi.
Non capita spesso di seguire passo passo la nascita di un’opera musicale e avere la fortuna di poter dialogare con il compositore cercando di capirne le intenzioni.
Claudio Ambrosini….raffinato, colto, consapevole, ironico..…una persona speciale che ho avuto la fortuna di incontrare nel mio percorso musicale, una di quelle persone che lasciano il segno.

Grazie Claudio.

Giovanni Girolamo Kapsperger (c.1580–1651), often spelled Kapsberger, has acquired a moderate prominence in recent years with the resurgence of the theorbo in early music groups. Like many theorbists, Stefano Maiorana began his studies on classical guitar and transferred his considerable technique to the earlier instrument through extensive continuo work in his native Italy. And considerable technique is necessary to play Kapsperger’s music. Kapsperger wrote music of a style that is totally his own. While much of his harmonic experimentation can be related to the extensive use of the theorbo as a continuo instrument—the role for which it was invented—he is never far away from an odd, seemingly non-functional dissonance used purely for colour. Add to this extensive use of left-hand slurs and cross-string scales and it is small wonder that relatively little of this music can be heard on recordings today. Maiorana’s performance displays a rare combination of technique and thought, especially in the preludes and toccatas. Modern scholars and performers are only just beginning to understand the development of Kapsperger’s music: his printed works begin in 1604 and continue until 1640, with several important lost works. This performance gives us an intimate glimpse into the unique genius of a composer rarely represented in surveys of music from the first half of the 17th century and thus might be the most revelatory of the recordings considered here.

G. Boye
Early Music Oxford


Over the last 25 years or so the solo lute works of Giovanni Girolamo Kapsberger (c. 1580-1651) have garnered significant representation on disc. My introduction to this music was Paul O’Dette’s signal 1990 recording on Harmonia Mundi. Featuring a panoply of harmonic surprises and an often asymmetrical, improvisatory character, these works immediately caught the attention of lutenists everywhere. Kapsberger was active at a crucial moment in European musical history, that highly creative and innovative transitional period between the Renaissance and Baroque eras. As a lutenist he was a celebrated virtuoso, but he also left us with a significant body of work across a number of genres, including madrigals, songs with continuo accompaniment and even a stage work. This music languished in obscurity for centuries, only seeing a resurgence of interest toward the end of the 20th century, possibly on account of a falling-out that occurred between the reportedly temperamental Kapsberger and his influential contemporary, musicologist Giovanni Battista Doni (c. 1593-1647) who subsequently published some scathing assessments of Kapsberger’s music.

Mr. Maiorana’s recording contains a representative cross-section of Kapsberger’s works for solo theorbo (chitarrone) drawn from three surviving collections. The pieces chart a comprehensive traversal of the composer’s career, beginning with Libro Primo (1604), continuing with Libro Terzo (1626) and Libro Quarto (1640).  (Libro Secundo from 1620 has unfortunately been lost).  We would expect to hear an evolution of style and technique across this three-and-a-half decade span, but on this CD the pieces jump between the three publications in way that, though it makes musical sense, is not chronological. Our perception of such an evolution, if it even existed (I couldn’t hear it), is therefore obscured. This does nothing, however, to diminish the quality and sophistication of the music, as Kapsberger was inventive, adventurous, and a technical master of his instrument.

Of course any collection of this music requires a performer of the highest caliber, and we certainly have one in Mr. Maiorana. His performance is elegant and polished, his technical and musical skills abundant, and he makes this often enigmatic music very enjoyable to hear. There is intimacy in the sound he elicits from his theorbo, but when called for, plenty of drama. He is equally at home with lyrical passages, toe-tapping dance rhythms, and the eyebrow-raising virtuosic cascades of notes that punctuate Kapsberger’s music. We hear these cascades pervasively in the Preludios from Libro Quarto of which this recording contains a healthy dollop. It’s a device that makes takes full advantage of the theorbo’s re-entrant tuning, wherein the instrument can evoke the character of a harp.

 In these Preludios and also in the Toccatas, Mr. Maiorana emphasizes the rhythmic freedom inherent in this style, imbuing the pieces with a highly improvisatory character. While this is certainly in keeping with the composer’s intent, for me it raises the question of how these pieces were originally composed. I have a sneaking suspicion that they are notated versions of Kapsberger’s own improvisations, probably worked out over a number of public performances and finally intabulated for publication. I further suspect that subsequent performances of these pieces (if there were any) would not have slavishly adhered to the published versions. As if to illustrate this, Mr. Maiorana has added his own not-so-brief coda to Preludio IX (track 3) inspired by elements contained in Libro Terzo, which serves to extend the freewheeling character of the piece.

This is a beautifully recorded CD in which the engineers have captured the intimacy of Mr. Maiorana’s playing and rendered it very pleasingly. While the natural resonance of the theorbo is much in evidence, it is in no way muddied by excessive room ambiance. For those of us already familiar with Kapsberger’s music this disc is a welcome addition to the catalog, and for those to whom this music is new, an attention-grabbing introduction. Audiophiles should note that the CD was recorded in 48Khz/24-bit resolution (DVD-A standard), but of course for CD release it was mastered at 44.1Khz/16-bit, (CD standard). Austrian record label Fra Bernardo’s recordings are distributed in the US by Naxos, where the discs are available from their website (, and can also be purchased or streamed/downloaded from Hopefully you can also find it at your local CD store. While I could not immediately find a source for this recording in its high-resolution format, I hope one will soon emerge.

H. Kadis
LSA Quarterly


con Paul Dyer...foto di Steven Godbee

A cosa penso quando penso all’australian baroque orchestra?
penso a volti sorridenti, ad abbracci affettuosi, tanto divertimento e tanta, tanta musica stupenda….

il mio ringraziamento va a tutti voi…

a Shannon che mi ha accolto per prima a Sydney con uno smagliante sorriso, a Bruce, Bridget e Rob sempre attenti alle mie esigenze, ad Alex che ha lavorato agli arrangiamenti, a Steven che ci ha immortalato con immagini evocative…ma soprattutto ai miei incredibili colleghi e nuovi amici:

Shaun, Matt, Ben, Jamie, Tommie, Rob, Brian, Jess, Natasha e alla fine a te Paul, l’anima di questo gruppo va il mio più caloroso ringraziamento per un’esperienza incredibile.

Grazie infinite Paul per avermi dato l’opportunità di vivere la musica con gioia…I miss you ABO…

Giovanni Girolamo Kapsberger lived from c. 1580 to 1651. He was a contemporary of Frescobaldi, Schütz, Schein, Scheidt, Tomkins, and Allegri. From an Austrian family living in Italy, Kapsberger was probably born in Venice and is remembered both as a prolific composer and virtuoso of the lute and theorbo (chitarrone). Both these aspects of Kapsberger’s work contributed significantly to the development of the lute and theorbo/chitarrone as (solo) instruments.
Early plucked-string specialist Stefano Maiorana was born in Rome and a pupil of several prominent experts in the field including Paul O’Dette; he studied classical guitar at Santa Cecilia. His purpose in producing this exemplary CD on the Fra Bernardo label was specifically to offer a wider view of Kapsberger than perhaps most general listeners (and indeed some non-specialists in the repertoire) may have.
He has succeeded. Although a key facet of the 20 works drawn from Books I, III and IV of “Intavolatura di chitarrone” presented here is variety, after listening to the music, you are also impressed with the composer’s perception, gentle insistence on inventiveness and gifts at carrying an idea (thematic and textural) through in such a way that its impact seems inevitable.
The Preludes from Book IV [tr.s 1,3,6,10,13] are quiet, humble reflections – meditations, almost (as Maiorana suggests in his informative booklet which comes with the CD) while the five Toccate [tr.s 4,7,14,15,18,20] are not only more contrapuntal in nature, but also more spirited, upward- and outward-facing. They too, though, have an elegiac quality to which Maiorana’s precise yet neither over-delicate nor unduly effusive style of playing is well suited.
Even the dance music included here, courantes, balli, a galliard, are played less as demonstrations and more with an emphasis on delight, not rhetoric. The “Battaglia” [tr.16] is the longest piece here, at almost nine minutes, and could have been turned into an excuse for quirky virtuosity. That’s not Maiorana’s approach, though. Instead we hear an account full of sensitivity – sympathy even – for the musical and creative world in which Kapsberger was evidently so well at home. There is nothing superfluous, showy or demonstrative. Maiorana starts with technique (even in the extraordinary last five seconds of the “Battaglia”), which rests on a thorough understanding of the idiom. He lets the music inexorably press home its own advantage.
Maiorana’s playing also implicitly acknowledges Kapsberger’s grasp of form: contrast, development, quotation. But perhaps above all the craft of unself-consciously melding the various components of any one piece in such a way that the whole is greater than its parts. One remains aware of the sonority of the chitarrone (a modern copy by Martin Shepherd of an original theorbo) throughout. And it’s closely miked, providing an almost lambent experience; yet nothing cloying or oppressive.
This is a collection of evocative, proud and impressive musical statements from a composer whose work deserves to be better known. By letting the works speak for themselves through his deeply sympathetic and comprehending approach, Maiorana has done the composer a real service. Aware that we are listening to modern performances of inevitably modern conception, we are nevertheless made to concentrate on the very essences of Kapsberger’s imagination. Maiorana has the gift of bringing us with him as he explores. Though such exploration is neither experimental; nor falsely empirical. He expands a repertoire and type of music-making that could be misunderstood as ‘miniature’s or ‘minor’. But without over-blowing the music, his playing finds nothing that’s not written and wished for by Kapsberger.
The acoustic (of the Sala Capitolare in the Roman church of Santa Maria Sopra Minerva) is warm, fresh and clean. It adds much to our appreciation of the instruments and intricacies of Kapsberger’s writing over and above any more generalized pleasure that we may derive from more than an hour of this persuasive music. The liner notes guide the reader through the types of work performed, providing pointers to their context and strengths. If this repertoire is one you enjoy already, you will not be disappointed by the color, dexterity and depth of the playing here. If Kapsberger is new to you, this well-produced CD makes and excellent introduction. A little gem that is recommended without hesitation.

M. Sealey
Classical Net