Sandro Volta’s Unvarnished Take on Petrucci Tablatures for Lute

Ottavio Petrucci was not the first music publisher. But he was the first to figure out how to print complex polyphonic scores. This release collects from his Intavolatura di Liuto (lute tablatures) — a genre that blossomed thanks in part to Petrucci’s innovations.

Lutenist Sandro Volta performs music by Francesco Spinacino, Joan Ambrosio Dalza, and Franciscus Bossinensis. Each composer has a slightly different style. Each composer’s works are presented in a block, so it’s easy to hear those style changes as one moves through the recording.

Francesco Spinacino ‘s music was the subject of the Libro primo and Libro secondo of 1507. Spinacino wrote complex, free-flowing ricercares. Included is his most famous work, the “Recercare de tutti li toni” which modulates through all the modes.

The Libro quarto of 1508 collected music by Joan Ambrosio Dalza. Dalza wrote lute music in popular dance forms as well as more formal polyphonic compositions. Dalza’s music is simpler than Sinacino’s and has an appealing directness to it.

Franciscus Bossinensis had two volumes of Tenoir e contrabassi published in 1509 and 1511. Each of these selections was preceded by a short ricerecare, that served as a prelude. Six of them are presented here.
Volta is a masterful player, a seasoned recording artist, and a Grand Prix du Disque winner. This is material he knows and plays well. And yet, I didn’t like this recording as much as I thought I would.

I fault the recording. Listening through a high-performance system, I was distracted by extraneous sounds such as grunts, scrapes, and clicks. Sometimes such sounds can add to the authenticity of a performance. In this case, they didn’t (at least for me).

When I played the recording through my everyday system, those issues became almost inaudible, and I enjoyed the music much more. It’s a minor quibble, but one to be aware of if you have a high-performance audio system.

Otherwise, I recommend this recording for collecting some of the earliest and most influential lute music from the Petrucci catalog.

Petrucci – Intavolature di Liuto
Tablatures for Lute
Spinacino, Dalza, Bossinensis
Sandro Volta, renaissance lute
Brilliant Classics 95262

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