Faekree A prolific and highly original composer, Kapsberger is chiefly remembered today for his lute and theorbo chitarrone music, which was seminal in the development of these as solo instruments. Wikimedia Commons has media related to Johannes Hieronymus Kapsberger. Kapsberger also wrote stage music, almost all currently lost. In other projects Wikimedia Commons. He started publishing his music at around the same time, with more than a dozen collections of music appearing during the next ten years.

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Apart from some running passages towards the end, the notes of the ground are very much in evidence, clear, solid, and irrepressible. Meanwhile the higher notes move on apace, enhanced with many ornaments.

The second group of pieces ends with a jolly Canario based on a simple Bergamasca-like chord sequence. I think Nordberg takes it a bit too quickly, if only because the campanellas of bars are so quick they lack clarity. Nordberg creates an overall mood which is satisfyingly gentle with subtle nuances. Each variation has its own character, for example the fifth consists of running passages, the sixth has rolled four-note chords, the seventh has super-quick roulades between chords, and the eighth has triplas.

Kapsberger marks four-note chords to be rolled or arpeggiated, because he only used the thumb and two fingers of his right hand. When four-note chords occur only here and there in a piece, Nordberg rolls them, but in the sixth variation they occur throughout, so Nordberg arpeggiates these to good effect.

The roulades in the seventh variation require considerable dexterity, but Nordberg is equal to the task, playing them quickly, evenly, and without losing sight of the overall architecture. I am impressed with his virtuosity. With such excellent playing, it is unfortunate that Nordberg comes unstuck towards the end of the eighth variation. There is, in my opinion, a crotchet rhythm sign missing from the original source at the very end of the penultimate stave, causing Nordberg to charge on at double speed with quavers for the next few notes.

In fact I think all the rhythm signs from there to the end could do with some pretty drastic editing to make musical sense of what I believe should be a straightforward passage with regard to rhythm.

Nordberg does not play it, and I wonder if he misread it as a minim rhythm sign, even though the actual minim sign is notated immediately above it. Not to worry.

The absence of one insignificant bass note does not stop me enjoying all the other notes of this well-played piece. Nordberg arpeggiates the notes of each chord quickly and not necessarily in strict time to create a flurry of notes, but he is careful moving from one chord to the next, giving the piece shape with well-arched phrases.

The CD ends with the eponymous Kapsberger, variations on an eight-bar ground, with pleasing campanellas.


Johann Hieronymus Kapsberger



Kapsberger: Intavolatura di Chitarone


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