I love music.

I write about the music I like and have purchased for the benefit of better understanding it and sharing my preferences with others.

La Villanella - Music of Kapsberger

I recently purchased the recordings of L'Arpeggiata on Alpha in a box set, and included is a CD of music by Kapsberger (known best, perhaps, as a lutenist). Published originally in 2001, it includes both vocal and instrumental works. Among the CDs in the collection, it was new to me, although some of the numbers were not.

La Villanella has the typical features of many of Pluhar's recordings: they're well mastered with a good recorded sound quality, and the playing is both sensitive and well-interpreted. What might surprise you, if you're only familiar with their most recent recordings (such as the release of music by Purcell or their Monteverdi series with Philippe Jaroussky) is the less-extrovert nature in performance.

Pluhar and her collaborators have evolved since first concertizing and making albums, from a stricter historical approach to one better-aligned with igniting interest by modern audiences. This release, being one of their first, therefore is more conservative and is comprised less of arrangements than the latest releases.

That said, I am a fan of the ensemble, their director Christina Pluhar, and their inventive prowess. This release must be taken in context, at least, if you want to compare. The interpretations of Kapsberger et al. by the eponymous ensemble Ensemble Kapsberger with releases like Nuove Musische is more akin to Pluhar's latest releases. This one features expressive singers and a somewhat wide variety of color between different plucked instruments (including harp) and a solo instrument in the cornetto, often cited in works of the time as the instrument most closely resembling the human voice.

While I also admire the performances of Il Giardino Armonico and their soloist/stars such as Luca Pianca, I found this recital much stronger than that featuring Pianca with vocalist G. Laurens.

If nothing else, this release is important in L'Arpeggiata's history as it contains "their song," Kapsberger's L'Arpeggiata. This release will be of most interest to those who are new to Kapsberger. I also own Paul O'Dette's recital of his music which has a far more closely-miked and almost personal reading of lute pieces. The combination in this releases of Kapsberger's different output makes it a great introduction to this early baroque composer.

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