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Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Alan Rinehart - The Golden Century: Lute Music From 16th Century Italy

Alan Rinehart - The Golden Century: Lute Music From 16th Century Italy
2010, Alan Rinehart
Alan Rinehart is a performer, teacher and editor based in Nelson, British Columbia, who has earned international acclaim for his guitar and lute work since his London debut in 1980.  Rinehart studied lute at the Early Music Center in London, England with Anthony Rooley, Jakob Lindberg and Emma Kirby, and went on to found The Vancouver Guitar Quartet.  As a soloist Rinehart has released three albums, the most recent of which is The Golden Century: Lute Music From 16th Century Italy.   On The Golden Century, Rinehart takes listeners through the music of three generations of Italian composers, tracing lute music through as it developed from dance, polyphonic and popular roots.
Alan Rinehart is a teacher even in performance.  Reading his press materials and listening to The Golden Century, it’s evident that Rinehart is ultimately knowledgeable of his art, and thoroughly in love with the music he plays.  Each note is carefully, lovingly crafted, with a clean and distinct style of play that speaks of impeccable technique.  Rinehart offers 31 lute pieces on traditional guitar in hopes of opening up the art form to greater interest.  Rinehart opens with four studies by Francesco Spinacino.  The fourth, “Recercar de tutti Il Toni” makes bold tonal explorations and shows Rinehart’s ultimately graceful technique.  Rinehart dances his way lightly through five short pieces from Joanambrosio Dalza.  One of the highlights of the album comes next.  Rinehart recreates Vincenzo Capirola’s “Et In Terra Paz Homnibus”, itself a recreation of Josquin de Pres’ vocal work of the same name.   Rinehart gives ‘voice’ to the pieces as well as many vocalists you might think of.
Rinehart next takes on six Fantasias from Francesco Canova (da Milano).  To varying degrees, Canova’s Fantasias have a highly pensive feel that breathes forth from Rinehart’s recordings.  Once again, the technique here is flawless, and Rinehart plays with not only technical perfection, but with an emotive style that is unmistakable.  Rinehart takes a side trip with “Fantasia” by Alberto da Ripa, showing off a contrapuntal harmony style that would be challenging to even the most practiced guitarist.  Somehow Rinehart makes it all sound easy. 
Vincenzo Gallilei’s “Chiari, fresche e dolci acque” takes a vocal composition from Jaques Arcadelt and turns it into a mellow, ambling piece full of beauty.  Rinehart offers up the piece in tones of reverence, eliciting each note and phrase with fervent solemnity.    Rinehart next works through four pieces from Giulio Cesare Barbetta that infuse a Spanish style.  Three “Moresca’s” (Moorish dances) and “Passamezzo Detto Il Commune (in 4 variations)” show off a more dance-oriented style that was ahead of its time when written.  Rinehart plays each with a light touch that is appropriate, allowing the pieces themselves to speak.   
Rinehart offers some of his best fret work on the anonymous “Ricercar (Siena lute MS 1585)”, a piece with a mischievous melody and complex structure.  This piece would have been progressive for its time, and Rinehart plays it with appropriate energy and zest.  Rinehart next communes with Giovanni Antonio Terzi, moving into a more traditional baroque sound with the use of madrigals and chansons.  “Alemano” in particular shows Rinehart at his best, working from resolution to resolution with a sense of embellishment that is keenly refined.  While Rinehart didn’t write the lines he plays, you’d nearly think he did.  Rinehart closes with “Fantasia Quinta” by Simone Molinaro.  A contemporary of Giovanni Palestrina”, Molinaro’s complex and textured piece is given loving air by Rinehart, building in intensity and energy and displaying consummate technique and grace.
Alan Rinehart plays music from the 16th century as he might have once lived through that time, with a conviction and passion that comes only from close association.  You can almost close your eyes and picture yourself in 16th century Florence with The Renaissance exploding around you.  Alan Rinehart’s The Golden Century: Lute Music From 16th Century Italy is transformative.  It’s the sort of performance that can change your musical perspective, opening your mind up to new sounds and styles you may never have otherwise considered.  Rinehart’s work is a thing of beauty.
Rating: 5 Stars (Out of 5)
Learn more about Alan Rinehart at Golden Century: Lute Music From 16th Century Italy is available as a CD or Download from  The digital version is also available via iTunes.

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