Libro secondo di intavolatura di liuto, Bologna, 1639 and manuscript for theorbo
The music chosen for this recording is drawn from two sources: the second volume of intabulations for lute of 1639, and the manuscript for theorbo preserved in the Archivio di Stato of Modena, datable to the first decades of the seventeenth century. The 1639 volume is entirely intended for the lute or archlute and was edited by Alessandro’s son, Leonardo Maria, who added a few of his own compositions. The music contained herein was not often performed (the book is full of printing errors and is graphically less clear than its predecessor). Yet this volume includes the pieces which are perhaps more strongly characteristic of Piccinini, such as the Ciaccona and Passacaglia presented here. Many of the pieces on this CD have been recorded here for the first time. The Toccate express an improvisatory style, but this does not necessarily mean that they were in fact improvised. Rather, they were intended to give the listener the impression of free and unbridled artistic expression, vivid and immediate. In order to obtain this style, the composer indeed employs certain ideas typical of unwritten music, but he elaborates them in a carefully thought-out and complex manner. For example, a distinctive characteristic of much improvised music might consist of long initial chords which serve to establish a tonal centre, if not an actual key, and provide a moment of reflection while the player considers how to proceed.