Mad Dog – The Elizabethan Lute
Compositions by John Dowland (1563-1626), Anthony Holborne (died in 1602), John Johnson (died in 1594), and William Byrd (1542-1623)
Thursday, 10 December 2015
The Abigail Adams Smith Auditorium
417 East 61st Street
New York, NY 10065
John Dowland, though also a sprightly and humorous composer, is most famous for the darker side of his character and the pervading melancholy that nourished his unquiet soul. But he was in no way the inventor of highly charged melodic poignancy in solo lute music. Two important composers of the generation of English lutenists that preceded him clearly show signs of great invention including moments of tormented yearnings which led to music of extraordinary depth. John Johnson (died in 1594) and Anthony Holborne (died in 1602) were the most prominent lutenists to remain in England during the Elizabethan period (Dowland spent many years on the Continent). Their œuvre contains rhapsodic Pavans of lyrical intensity and richness of harmony, spirited Galliards, striking character pieces and elaborate variations. They were both virtuosos of the highest calibre as the daring of their diminution techniques attests. This program will highlight theirs and Dowland’s works in an evening of masterpieces from the 1580s and 90s.
Born in New York in 1946, Hopkinson Smith graduated from Harvard with Honors in Music in 1972. The next year he came to Europe to study with Emilio Pujol in Catalonia and Eugen Dombois in Switzerland. He then became involved in numerous chamber music projects including the founding of the ensemble Hespèrion XX. Since the mid-80’s, he has focused almost exclusively on the solo repertoires for early plucked instruments producing a series of prize-winning recordings for Naïve. These feature Spanish music for vihuela and baroque guitar, French lute music of the Renaissance and baroque, early 17th century Italian music and the German high baroque. The recording of his lute arrangements of the Bach solo violin Sonatas and Partitas, released in the year 2000, has been universally acclaimed by the press. Gramophone magazine called it “the best recording of these works on any instrument”. A Dowland recording, out since early 2005, won a Diapason d’Or and was called ‘wonderfully personal’ in a review in the New York Times. A recording with music from the world of Francesco da Milano, was awarded a Diapason d’Or de l’Année (the French equivalent of a Grammy award) in November 2009 and has been called “the first recording to do justice to Francesco’s reputation.” A CD with the first three Bach ‘cello Suites played on the German Theorbo was released in early 2013, has also won a Diapason d’Or and was called “totally riveting” in the BBC Music Magazine. Hopkinson Smith has performed and given master classes throughout eastern and western Europe, North and South America, Australia, New Zealand, Korea and Japan sometimes combining the life-style of a hermit with that of a gypsy. In 2007 and 2009, he gave concerts and workshops in Palestine under the auspices of the Barenboim-Said Foundation and the Swiss Arts Council. In 2010, he received the music prize from the Italian Region of Puglia with the inscription “maestro dei maestri, massimo interprete delle musiche per liuto dell’antica Europa Mediterranea”, and he is the 2015 winner of the Music Prize from the city of Petrer in the province of Alicante in Spain. He teaches at the Schola Cantorum Basiliensis. “Hopkinson Smith is without doubt the finest lute player in the world today…” San Francisco Chronicle “The lutenist Hopkinson Smith is one of the most spectacular instrumentalists of the present time.” Der Standard, Vienna “Hopkinson Smith is the supreme ‘poet’ of the lute.” Gramophone, London “…a major artist of our time” Répertoire, Paris From 2014: New York, Classiclite, November 12, “Impeccable technique…serenely expressive…a world class performance-“