Masters of the Baroque Guitar
The 'baroque' guitar was a curious instrument, smaller than today's instrument and having a less pronounced waist, with five pairs of strings whose variable tunings create aural ambiguities, and which manages to sound self-sufficient despite its lack of a true bass. It is impossible to reproduce the sound and textural effect of the five-course ('baroque') instrument on the modern guitar, though much of its music has been convincingly translated to it; the differences are better conveyed by the ear than the reading eye, which is one good
The five-course guitar was not a suitable receptacle for profoundly serious music, and its repertory contains a high proportion of dances (courtly and popular) and character pieces; those of Sanz are the most uncommon and colourful. Elaborate strums were part of the instrument's 'armoury', on limited display here, in a programme that concentrates more on the punteado (lute-like) style than the rasgueado (strummed). It is a small sound-world of pleasing miniatures, one which detours from music history's main paths, and in which Mason is the accomplished guide, supported by excellent recording and (his own) annotation. If you're not addicted to larger-scale music and sound, try it.'