About the Track
I once fell head over heels for a young lady named Larissa, and decided to profess my steadfast love for her by presenting her with this art song. I thought it was easiest to express my thoughts in the style and language of the great Elizabethan lutenists such as John Dowland and Thomas Campion, and this is reflected in the music itself as well as the lyrics. The first verse describes a beautiful garden (my heart) and that it has everything it needs except for one "precious treasure", Larissa! The second verse describes how happy and protected Larissa would feel if she decided to join me in this ambrosian garden of my heart.
Unfortunately Larissa did not feel as strongly about me as I did about her, but at least I now have this wonderful art song to share with the world! May it support the "gardens of joy" of all true soul mates out there!
About the Lute Song
The lute song was a generic form of music in the late Renaissance and very early Baroque eras, generally consisting of a singer accompanying himself on a lute, though lute songs may often have been performed by a singer and a separate lutenist. A bass viol was very often used to support the bass line in performance.
Many of the composers of lute songs were themselves lutenists, and performed the songs themselves; many were also madrigalists or composers of chansons. In general, lute songs were written from about 1550 to around 1650, though there is evidence that some music was performed this way much earlier (for instance, Baldassare Castiglione mentions that frottola were sometimes performed by solo voice and lute, presumably in the first decade or so of the 16th century.)
The lute song flourished in Italy, France and England; it had different styles and names in each location. In England, it was called the ayre (or air). Famous composers included John Dowland, Thomas Campion, and Philip Rosseter. In Italy, composers of lute songs included Vincenzo Galilei and Luzzasco Luzzaschi; the songs written later in the 16th century were the first to show Baroque characteristics. The French lute song was called the air de cour, and had a somewhat longer lifespan than elsewhere, due to the influence of musique mesurée; it also influenced early French opera.
Lyrics by Erik-Peter Mortensen
Fairest Larissa, yon beauteous light
Fills the dales and meadows with bliss and delight.
Each morn, the birds do sing and chant 'mongst flow'ring trees.
No cares betide on Zephyr's gentle breeze.
Though for such beauty I have thirsted e'er,
'Tis lacking yet one precious treasure rare:
Wherefore art thou my cherished Muse?
Thou could'st yet my longing heart with hope infuse!
My heart prepareth a bastion for thee.
'Gainst the gale of life's rigor
My care shall set thee free.
No grief shall prevail in my garden's shelt'ring love.
Joy's radiant rays will grace thee from above.
All other riches I but seek in vain.
'Tis life with thee my happiness shall gain!
Banish the clouds of lovelorn shade!
Pipe and dance within my sweet ambrosian glade!
Production and Performance
Vocal performance and virtual guitar (lute) realization by Erik-Peter Mortensen