For his newest recording, lutenist Paul O’Dette delves into the music of 16th-century France to unveil the miniature masterpieces of Albert de Rippe, and WCRB has chosen it as our CD of the Week!
When The Globe and Mail called lutenist Paul O’Dette the “clearest case of genius ever to touch his instrument,” it was partly a reaction to his uncanny mastery of a centuries-old instrument. But mostly it was a reaction to his mesmerizing and mysterious art of unleashing the expressive soul of the lute.
We’ve long had the pleasure of Paul O’Dette’s company here in Boston – he’s the Artistic Co-Director of the Boston Early Music Festival, a feast of scholarship and beauty that attracts fans from across the globe. He is also a researcher and writer, and teaches lute while he serves as Director of Early Music at the Eastman School of Music. So far, he’s made over 140 recordings, and now his latest is out: a loving tribute to the lush and colorful music of Albert de Rippe.
Born Alberto da Ripa, Rippe was one of many brilliant Italian musicians who were lured to France in the 16th century by Francis I, who worried that the Italians were overshadowing his royal music with their popular madrigals. Albert de Rippe created techniques that gave the lute a richer, more resonant sound. He found new ways to imitate the long, sung phrases of vocal music. In Rippe’s fantasies and chansons, O’Dette creates a radiant atmosphere of intimate storytelling. And when the music is dancing, O’Dette is, too, with irrepressible joy.
The recording is beautifully engineered to bring you into the closest possible contact with the sound, without losing the resonant warmth of its message.
Watch this interview to find out how Paul O’Dette astonished his teacher in high school when his curiosity took him from his beloved electric guitar to the classical guitar, and then on to a lute that seemed to need him as much as he needed it: