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These days, Galileo is the most famous member of the Galilei family. But at the turn of the 17th Century, that wasn’t the case. Galileo’s father, Vincenzo Galilei was a renowned lutenist and an influential music theorist.
In the 1590s, a group of musicians and scholars — the Florentine Camerata — sought to revive ancient Greek music and drama. Vincenzo Galilei had done extensive acoustical experiments. His work became a key component of what the Camerata developed.
The Camerata didn’t succeed in reviving ancient Greek music. But they did develop a new style of music — the Baroque — and a new musical form, the opera.
Vincenzo Galilei published several collections of lute music based on his new theories. Christian Zimmermann presents a selection of this music.
Galilei wrote these pieces in only major and minor keys. This was part of the new Baroque aesthetic. And it represented a clean break from the church modes of the Renaissance.
This recording also includes music by Michelangelo Galilei. He was Vincenzo’s son and Galileo’s brother. And he was also a virtuoso lutenist.
Michelangelo’s music is more concerned with technique than theory. So hearing music by father and son together is enlightening.
Zimmermann uses both a six-course lute and a ten-course lute for this recording. The two instruments provide a welcome variety of timber. And, I suspect, some of these pieces are better suited to a particular instrument.
The recital is well-recorded. The sound is clean and close-up. But the balance is good, and the instruments have a natural resonance.
Highly recommended to anyone curious about the origins of the Baroque.
Vincenzo and Michelangelo Galilei
Musiche per liuto
Christian Zimmermann, lute