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GRAMOPHONE (12/2019)
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Harmonia Mundi

Rippe: Un Perfaict Sonneur de Leut Product Image

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Reviewer: William Yeoman

The Italian Renaissance lutenist/composer Albert de Rippe’s playing may or may not have had the power, as was said, to soften his own kidney stones. But this recital devoted to de Rippe’s lute music and performed by that modern-day Orpheus of the lute, Paul O’Dette, is certain to soften the hardest of hearts.

Like his contemporary Francesco da Milano, ‘Il Divino’ – whose lute music O’Dette has also recorded (7/13) – de Rippe (c1500-1551), for much of his career in the employ of François I, appears to have enchanted poets and potentates alike. Again, it’s easy to hear why. As O’Dette writes in a booklet note: ‘Albert de Rippe’s music is remarkable both for the quality and expressivity of his compositions, but also for the techniques he used to produce full, rich sonorities and to expand the colour palette of the lute.’ Where many lutenist/composers of the time might, for example, have been largely content with a transparent three-part texture, de Rippe’s fulsome harmonies and sonorous arpeggiations evoke the majesty of a choir or organ. Yet suggestion and subtlety abound in de Rippe’s fantasias in particular, but also in his intabulations of popular chansons. O’Dette includes some pavanes and galliards most likely by de Rippe’s student, Guillaume Morlaye.

If the opening Fantasia No 19 exudes a certain jouissance, especially under O’Dette’s eternally lithe fingers, he positively savours the melodic conversations and fuliginous harmonies unfurling in Fantasia No 2. O’Dette likewise dispatches the elaborations on Sandrin’s Douce mémoire and the measured sighs of the Pavane (track 17) in the same manner we have come to expect from this fine musician.

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