Christ Church Cathedral
Artists: Thomas Dunford, lute
The lute arrived in Europe from Moorish Spain, spreading rapidly in the 15th century and becoming the most popular instrument among courtiers and commoners in the 16th century. Henry VIII played the lute, and made sure that his three children – the future monarchs Edward VI, “Bloody” Mary, and Elizabeth I – learned it, as well. The lute was also a popular feature in late Elizabethan and early Jacobean theatre, which was enjoying its own golden age in the works of William Shakespeare and Ben Jonson.
John Dowland, an indisputable master of the lute and lute song repertoire, is quite ‘Shakespearian’ in the range of emotion and expression found in his music, and in his ability to absorb and synthesize the cultural influences of his day.
Bach arranged his Fifth Cello Suite for the lute which gives us unsuspected harmonies and a better understanding of how and where Bach would add ornaments. Thomas Dunford, following in Bach’s footsteps, arranged Bach’s First Cello Suite for archlute, a lute with an extended neck and unstoppable bass strings like the theorbo.
Giovanni Girolamo Kapsperger was an Austrian-Italian virtuoso performer and highly original composer whose compositions for the lute and theorbo were fundamental in the development of these as solo instruments.
Pre-concert Talk at 7 p.m.: Suzie LeBlanc in conversation with Thomas Dunford.
This concert is generously supported by José Verstappen and Jonathan Drance.