Cusp of the Baroque
cusp (kŭsp) n. A point or pointed end. [< Lat. cuspis.]
Music historians have settled on the year 1600 as the “offical” ending of the Renaissance and beginning of the Baroque period. Change however, usually occurs incrementally, so a musical slice through the year 1600 reveals a very wide range of styles, many of which would eventually be reflected in the music of the later Baroque.
What better instrument for this surgical experiment than the lute, which crossed all borders and genres and was hailed as the most popular instrument of its day. By 1600 the lute was in the hands of more people than at any time in history. Its devotes ranged from highly paid professionals who penned their own virtuoso compositions, accomplished wealthy amateurs who often studied with the leading lutenist/composers of the day, and rank beginners who purchased the many low priced collections of popular music and dances transcribed for lute.
By 1600 most of the characteristics of Renaissance are contained in the solo lute repertoire, such as learned polyphony (Dowland’s Preludium), the borrowing of popular and folk melodies (Allyson’s Goe from My Wyndowe), and the formalized grouping of dances (Fortune My Foe, Lady Laiton’s Almain, and Mrs. Winter’s Jump). Baroque ideas abound also, with improvisations as wild as the inventions of the Italian violin composers (Kapsperger’s Tocatta), the dominance and ensuing variety of French dances (the dances by Vallet), and the grouping of movements by key and even sometimes by motive (Ballard’s Branles de la Village).
August Denhard, Lute
August Denhard has directed performances for Ardo Opera and the Bloomington Early Music Festival. Works to his credit include John Blow's Venus and Adonis, Claudio Monteverdi's Madrigali Guerrieri et Amorosi and L'Incoronazione di Poppea, and Tomás Torrejón de Velasco’s La Purpura de la Rosa. In Seattle he is the director of the co-director Continuo Ensemble, a community ensemble devoted to 17th-century vocal music.
As a performer on lute, theorbo and Baroque guitar, he has appeared with the Baroque Northwest, Chicago Music of the Baroque, the Indianapolis Baroque Orchestra and Seattle Baroque. In addition, he is a founding member of the Baroque trio Liaison and Naked Fifth. Both groups were named as finalists in the 2000 Dorian/Early Music America Recording Competition.
This recording was made possible by a residency through the Artist Support Program Jack Straw Productions in Seattle, Washington.
Engineering by Steve Ditore
Graphic Design by Marion Seibert
Special thanks to Julie Behrens and Ben Albritton
© August Denhard 2005