Travels with my Lute
Recorded in Sweden in 2005, this recital by the Japanese-born lutenist Ryosuke Sakamoto of 25 items ranges wide over the lute repertory from the 16th to the 20th centuries, drawing on pieces from Spain, Italy, England and Germany. The six from Spain which open the programme date from the early 16th century and feature such composers as Luis Milan, Mudarra and Narváez. But it is the four Italian pieces that begin to demonstrate the instrument’s full potential, with a lively Recercare by Francesco Spinacino.
Yet more striking still are the three pieces by John Dowland, representing England, that follow: a haunting piece in a minor key, What if a Day, the Earl of Essex, his Galliard and a wonderful Fantasia. Like Dowland, William Brade spent part of his career at the Danish court and Sakamoto explains that he prefers to play the Dance, here included, slowly as though it were a pavane.
Next, the 17th-century section with a Toccata and Galliard by JH Kapsberger, leading to two pieces by JS Bach, notably the unforgettable Gavotte en Rondeau which he arranged from his E major Partita for solo violin. A fine Passacaglia by Silvius Weiss and a virtuoso piece called Arpeggio in compound time by Carl Abel round off the section.
The two 19th- and 20th-century pieces are arrangements of piano pieces: La chevaleresque by Norbert Burgmüller, a short-lived contemporary of Mendelssohn, and – best-known of all – ‘La fille aux cheveux de lin’ from the first book of Debussy’s Préludes. Finally come two Swedish folk-tune arrangements, the second being especially lively and attractive. Then, as Sakamoto explains in his informative note, he likes to round off his recitals, as here, with a final Spanish piece, Marizápalos in versions by Gaspar Sanz and Santiago de Murzia. Sakamoto’s virtuosity is a constant delight, and he is helped by vivid, close-up sound.