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The lute was a popular instrument for both professionals and amateurs in England and Europe from the 16th to 18th centuries. Professional lutenists required the patronage of the Court to make a living and indeed many of their students amongst the nobility became quite decent performers and composers in their own right. As an "amateur with a day job" myself, I want to pay homage to those whose love of music was expressed both through their compositions and their patronage of the full time professionals.
The CD opens with a Plainte by the great baroque lute composer Sylvius Leopold Weiss. This is not a plainte of love, but rather a complaint to an un-named patron who failed to pay his fee! A Patron who did support Weiss was Prince Hyacinth de Lobkowitz (1680-1734), in fact Weiss dedicated one of his Dresden lute sonatas to the Prince. Lobkowitz was regarded as a fine performer and two of his lute suites survive. The suite in Bb major performed here is tuneful, rhythmic and shows an advanced mastery of technique. Much less is known about Count Ferdinand Graf von Bergen (1678-1766), although fully five suites of his have survived in three manuscripts. While his music is charming the lute tablature can be awkward to play as written and does benefit from some re-working. Johann Anton Logy (1650-1721) (also spelled Losy) was a Count in Prague and composed for both baroque lute and baroque guitar. He is perhaps best known for a piece written in his honor by Sylvius Weiss following Logy's death (Tombeau sur la mort de Monseigneur Comte de Logi). The solo works performed here are from the Swedish Kalmar manuscript. The four surviving duet movements (in A minor and F major) do fit together well to make their own suite. The British physician Thomas Campion (1567-1620) was a poet and composer and wrote over 100 lute songs that survive today. Unusual for the period, some are written from the woman's point of view and we include three such examples here. Finally, to close the loop of Patronage, the CD ends with a new piece that I commissioned from the modern day lutenist and composer Ronn McFarlane. Ronn is a prolific performer, founding member of the Baltimore Consort and his CD of his own compositions, Indigo Road, was nominated for a Grammy. The Passacaglia he wrote for this CD is, I believe, one of his most beautiful compositions and it's my honor to present the world premier.