This recording is all about the Italian renaissance, how it understood itself, how we understand it today and how we would have understood it if we had been contemporary with it, because no other period in European music’s history was as contemporary with itself as was the renaissance. During the 16th century, humanistic inspiration had led to the most equilibristic levels in all arts and had stretched the human mind to the highest achievements and skills flourishing in a landscape of youth, spring and rebirth of all of mother earth’s beings.
Diminutions, divisions, or glosas were one of the renaissance’s unique inventions. Technically it means embellishing a melody into a much more flavored and elaborated melody in faster movement and shorter rhythmical values, presuming that the simple melody still remains in the listener’s mind. This supreme discipline of ornamentation became a new work of art in itself.
The original composition on the other hand was reduced to a humble servant of this invention – an object of abuse for an instrumental protagonist without further empathies neither consideration of its origin.
It is like the game of drawing lines through numbered points on the last page of newspapers: creating shapes and figures making lines from a number to another. Melodies are like these shapes and contours of a drawing, and each numbered point is the plucked sound, drawing lines from one attacked sound to another one, believing that a figure eventually occurs in our imagination!
The art of diminution almost completely denaturalized the plucked instruments in the same way it has done to the electric plucked instruments in our own days. The distorted sound of an electric guitar made it a bowed string instrument and changed all its musical logic. The diminutions allowed the plucked string instrument to regain some of the qualities of the human voice, the phrasing, coloring and dynamics. By means of fast and small melodic figures which make bridges and reinforce the shape of the simple melody, the lute suddenly appears as protagonist, soloist and conductor, wowing a patchwork of colors, shadows and lights and in a unique way adding value to the simple and beloved, but all to well known melody. (ECM Records)