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Jacob Heringman plays music from the Siena Lute Book -
reviewed by

'... an infectious zest for the music ...'

The Siena Lute Book. © 2004 Jacob Heringman

'Orpheus with his lute made trees' is not quite so startlingly creative as may seem at first sight; Shakespeare continues 'Bow themselves when he did sing'. But from most ancient times, when lutes cheered the banquets of noble Egyptians beneath the Theban hills, the instrument attained special significance. If a musical god such as Apollo needed something to strum on, as often as not it would be a lute, even if the Greeks confounded matters by using the same word for lute and lyre.

By sixteenth century Siena, the lute was thoroughly established in Italy. Sienese music-making had a firm footing in the resplendent Cathedral and in the Palazzo Pubblico with its guild of trumpeters. In the following century came the horse-racing Palio with its traditional songs; but circa 1590 was compiled the 'Siena Lute Book'. Now relocated at the Hague, the collection is remarkable for accurate copying, the range of music featuring the most skilled lutenist-composers of the time, chanson or motet intabulations, and anonymous contemporary dances.

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Copyright © 2 January 2005 Robert Anderson, London UK


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