Vincenzo and Michelangelo Galilei — Musiche per liuto

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

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