Detailed CD program notes are available for online reading and download at:
In the mid 17th century France was the center of excellence for lutenists who, after much experimentation, settled on the "d minor" tuning system on an instrument with 11 sets of single and double strings ("courses") tuned f' d' a' f d a g f e d c. Once the Sun King turned his attention to the previously low brow guitar and elevated it to royal status, the lute fell out of favor. Performers spread throughout western Europe into the mostly German speaking countries and began to fuse the contemplative cerebral "broken" style of the French lutenists with more Italian influences that emphasized melody (Cantabile) and counterpoint while retaining the popular French dance music forms. In the later German baroque, two additional bass courses were added (b and a) and the music increased in harmonic complexity.
The program in this CD is an exploration of this rich and underappreciated repertoire, performed on both 11 course and the later 13 course baroque lute. The 11 course music retains much French influence with separated chords and simple harmonies but introduces more melodic components. The 13 course music introduces the singing cantabile style leading to the complex harmonies and grandeur of Weiss and Bach. Finally, a modern composition by Turovsky shows that the "German" baroque lute has not sung its last new songs.