Early Music - Classical Guitar Ensemble

Recordings of 2, 3, 4 and 5-part songs and instrumental music from the 14th thru 19th Centuries


All of the recordings on this site are freely available - for you to download & listen, burn to CDs, share (eMail) to anyone, use in school assignments or as incidental music for plays, for software games, background music for period events (Renaissance fairs), Youtube videos, etc.  In other words, none of this stuff is for sale.  Please listen, enjoy and use as you will.

About Early Music - Music from the 1400's to early 1600's:
About the guitarist: Jon Sayles - Multi-tracked classical guitar
Your comments and feedback & suggestions for new/candidate pieces, etc. are welcome... in fact? Encouraged.  Please email me at:  jsguitargeek@yahoo.com  

Credits - (click this link) to see who deserve thanks for this music you're listening to (my past teachers, influences, etc.).

Obtaining sheet music for the recordings - most of the sheet music is freely available on the internet in the form of PDFs. 

Rights and copyrights for the recordings:

Suggested listening and site map:

The recordings below are organized by nationality (England, France, Spain, Germany, Italy).  This tends to call out the provincial sounds, styles, cadences, rhythms, melodic intervals and harmonies reflected in each country's musical and cultural style.  

If you're new to Early and Renaissance, and want to start with a few of these:

If you are interested in reading about any of the composers or selections, scroll down in this site, and check out the associated song descriptions

What's with the asterisks next to some of the recordings?

If you're interested in a particular composer or in a specific work, it's easiest to use search:

Other Early Music site links - sheet music/pdf, recordings, information, links to guitar societies, etc.

Not quite so early music 


Finally, if you like Christmas Carols there are ~30 ... freely available at: www.jsayles.com/holiday/music.htm


Musical Selections

Click the song titles to download and/or play the recordings, assuming your computer is hooked up to speakers.

Recording and song notes

England

There's a wealth of English Renaissance music, published as well as recorded.  It has a distinctive (I was going to write distinguished) "medieval" - recognizable sound to it.  And fortunately, the music (original manuscripts) from the English Renaissance seem to have physically survived far more than the compositions from the European continent (France, Germany, Spain, Italy, etc.).  So we've got lots of great listening to do!  Start with songs like "Witches' Dance", "Browning", "Can She Excuse", "My Lady Carey's Dompe" and "Ricercare" - if you're new to this style.

A lute song by John Dowland (1562-1626).  In three sections.  Quick and pleasant, this charming tune presents some terrific counter-point in the "B" section between the melody (top treble line) and three other parts. 
Another beautiful John Dowland lute song (from his (Third or Last Bookes of Songes or Ayres"), with sad, slow lines that express musical-weeping, etc. in a kind of tone-painting manner. 
John Dowland - From "The first booke of songes or ayres of fowre partes with tableture for the lute", 1597.  Another four-part Dowland song in three sections. Of particular interest is the third section which contains terrific interplay (a musical exchange) between the 2nd and 3rd parts. 
Elway Bevin. 1554-c.1639.  Elway Bevin (hardly a household-name, even in classical music circles) was an English/Welsh composer - mainly noted in his time for rounds - songs where different parts play the same melody, beginning at different times (think "Row, Row, Row, Your Boat" -but with musical substance). 

Browning is a round in three parts, and is one of my very favorite early music pieces. Besides the absolutely gorgeous melodies and expressiveness of the individual lines, Elway throws some ridiculous poly-rhythms into the charts. At two separate instances in the piece, Elway basically keeps the middle line on the traditional 1 of 3/4 time, but shifts the treble and bass parts over to 2 and 3. The effect is stunning, almost spacey - as you completely lose track of "1".  It sort of reminds me of 1970's free-form Miles Davis the first time I heard it, except that it was written some 400+ years ago.

Note that before the mid-1600's music was written without bar lines. These poly-rhythms in Browning clearly expose the free-form structure of "no bar lines" - perhaps better than any other works recorded here. 

Finally, what is truly striking is the beauty of this piece, is that, in spite of the ultimate complexity and sophistication in the song-writing form and craftsmanship, the melody(s) are haunting, brilliant, sensitive and gorgeous.  Who can say - he might have even been inspired by his soul-mate! 

Anonymous - Incidental music to Shakespeares' MacBeth Act III.  Where...
On a stormy night, the witches invoke evil spirits as they brew their magic potions. Macbeth arrives and asks them to prophecy his destiny, In response, they conjure up three apparitions who, in turn, warn him to beware Macduff, that he need fear "none born of woman," and that he will be invincible until Birnam wood marches on his castle. The witches then summon the apparitions of eight kings who proceed past Macbeth, followed by Banquo, carrying a mirror. Terrified, Macbeth recognizes them as Banquo's descendants ("Fuggi, o real fantasima"). Macbeth faints and the witches dance around him ("Ondine e silfide"), then disappear.


Of note, this particular witch's dance doesn't sound threatening (i.e. it's not "Blair Witch"-like). Perhaps the Renaissance English took a more enlightened (Glenda from OZ) view of witches? 

Anonymous, circa 1524, England. Originally for keyboard (harpsichord or its predecessor), this arresting tune has been recorded widely, and you can find dozens of references to it on the Internet. I apologize for the drop in volume.  A dompe was either a lively dance or old English song (my research identifies both definitions for the term).  I'd also heard that a dompe was a reference to the broad hoop-skirts that ladies-of-means wore under their dresses to "poof-them-out", as seen in the many paintings from the era. 
Dedicated to Stacy Irwin - Graeme's daughter, extraordinary student and gifted pianist.
A four-part Madrigal by Thomas Morley (~1557 - 1602). Haunting and slow, this piece is based on the following poem:

    April is in my mistress' face.
    And July in her eyes hath place.
    Within her bosom is September,
    But in her heart a cold December.


An interesting musical-historic analysis is available at: http://cfaonline.cfa.asu.edu/reynolds/MHL341/ren/morley.april.html
Adrian Willaert (1490-1562) - Willaert played a key role in the development of the ricercare.  His Masses usually had three voices, and were highly contrapuntal.  This particular ricercare is one of my all-time favorites - with glorious voicings, beautiful melodic lines and a spectacular ending. 

 

John Dowland (1563 - 1626) - one of Dowland's most serene and nostalgic madrigals.  In four parts this gorgeous song, with its haunting melody and unusual chord progression has staying power, even for contemporary ears. 

In an effort to prove that, in spite of this, the year of political and social divisiveness and discord here in the U.S. ... music (including Early and Renaissance Music) can be a powerful and positive means of communication, inclusion and advancement - between societies even countries.  Awhile ago the pre-eminent Japanese vocalist and Renaissance scholar (Kuni Yoshimura) downloaded .WAV files for Come Heavy Sleep from my house in N.C. - and recorded a gorgeous vocal track to over it.  He's hosting the song on his site, which contains a significant number of beautiful arrangements of Renaissance madrigals.

To be honest, going into this mini-project I was not considering the above high-fallutin' politico-philosophical notions.  Kuni sings spectacularly, and since plane fares from N.C. to Tokyo are a bit out of my league, the only means of us collaborating (my accompanying him) was through cyberspace.  It was only after a bit of time had passed that I realized how fairly amazing Internet technology is - to permit, even realize Marshall Mcluhan's "Global Village" - a concept he began writing about in the 1950's

John Dowland (1563 - 1626) - a gorgeous 5-part Pavan. Originally written for Viols, I feel this piece sounds terrific on classical guitar(s).  What do you think?
Thomas Weelkes (1575 - 1623) - a quick, 3-part madrigal.  Very holiday, in spirit. 
Thomas Weelkes (1575 - 1623) - an awesome, quick rhythmically fascinating, 3-part madrigal, uptempo, too. 
Thomas Weelkes (1575 - 1623) - This is a really gorgeous 5-part Madrigal - with very interesting harmonies. 
Thomas Weelkes (1575 - 1623) - You could easily put Weelkes in the same category of genius with Thomas Morley.  A terrific, if too short 3-part Madrigal - spirited and funny in tone.
Thomas Weelkes (1575 - 1623) - This has to have been written for some play, during the era. A short 3-part Madrigal - great 4 -to 4 - to 4 /4 time changes.
Thomas Weelkes (1575 - 1623) - A gorgeous 3-part men's chorus madrigal, about the stupidity of materialism and the wonder of love.
William Byrd (1540 - 1623) - A canon (round) in 3 voices.
William Byrd (1540 - 1623) - Sacred music - yet, in round/canon form.
William Byrd (1540 - 1623) - A 6-part Pavan - stately, elegant, beautiful - lots happening, and one that will stay with you, if you listen a few times.
Orlando Gibbons (1583-1625) - A famous choral work in 5-parts.  Pretty much anyone who's ever sang in a  junior high/high school or college chorus knows this piece.
Orlando Gibbons (1583-1625) - one of my favorite two-part instrumental works.  Fast and furious, this little ditty flies at the top of my technical range.  Fun tho ... and dedicated to Donna and Gracie H. Donna being one of the most extraordinary talents and wonderful people I've ever been blessed to work with (and Gracie her daughter). You're a lucky girl Gracie. But then - I'll bet you already know this. 
Thomas Lupo (1571 - 1627) - English composer of Italian origin, and from a musical family Thomas served the court as a Viol player from 1591.  As well as vocal music, he composed many instrumental fantasias (one of which is recorded here). 
John Dowland (1563 - 1626) - one of Dowland's more popular 4-part madrigals - fast and all-too-short (I probably could have done a few additional verses) 
John Dowland (1563 - 1626) - one of Dowland's more popular slow and haunting 4-part madrigals.
John Dowland (1563 - 1626) - a gorgeous, slow, melodic and beautiful tune.
John Dowland (1563 - 1626) - a cool and up-tempo madrigal.  Snappy (no entendres, please!)
John Dowland (1563 - 1626) - another cool and up-tempo madrigal.  Gorgeous harmonies.
John Dowland (1563 - 1626) - a slow brooding madrigal.  Beautiful melody - terrific chords and the third (tenor) line does some crazy counterpoint - near the end.
John Wilbye (1574-1638) - an incredibly cool 4-part madrigal, played up-tempo, and with verve.  This is a really a terrific selection.  Special thanks to an incredibly gifted Renaissance singer (Kuni Yoshimura), who offered these carefully considered thoughts on Wilbye: "I've always suspected that Wilbye must have been an accomplished lutenist himself (a lute was bequeathed to him in his father's will and his style of composition suggests familiarity with plucked instruments rather than keyboard)."
Thomas Morley (1557-1602) - A terrific, up-tempo, 5-part madrigal.  Sounds good any time of year. 
Thomas Morley (1557-1602) - A short but sweet little 3-part choral work.  All treble voices.  Ends with a kick. 
Thomas Morley (1557-1602) - One of Morley's more famous three-part madrigals (Bass, alto, soprano).  Played up-tempo to reveal the way-cool rhythmic elements and sophisticated counter-point.  This is a new "favorite". 
Thomas Morley (1557-1602) - I learned of this stunning 5-part madrigal just a few days ago.  It's incredible, bold, dynamic, up-beat.  Absolutely great stuff. 
Thomas Morley (1557-1602) - This is a classic 5-part madrigal by Morley.  Simple, fun, with terrific harmonies and a great melody line.  It's one of the more well-known songs on this site, being sung regularly in high school and college choirs. 
Thomas Morley (1557-1602) - This is one of Morley's more popular tunes - the words (text) by none less than William Shakespeare.  
John Wilbye (1574-1638) - A classic 4-part madrigal, slow and elegant. 
John Wilbye (1574-1638) - A fabulous and romantic 5-part madrigal.  Soul-mate/inspired.
John Wilbye (1574-1638) - Another terrific Wilbye 4-part Madrigal.  Fabulous writing, from a master composer at the top of his game.
John Wilbye (1574-1638) - A cool up-tempo, 5-part madrigal.  Sue Iadone gave to this to me years ago.  Shame on me for not having played it (until last night).  A really fun and interesting piece. 
Dedicated to Graeme's wife - Tracey Irwin. For her patience with "men and their computers and obsession with eMail."
Thomas Campian (1567-1620) - Another classic 4-part madrigal, slow and elegant.  This is a vocal favorite - that like the Silver Swan (above) and unlike many of the rest on this site, is not so obscure. 
Thomas Morley (1557-1602) - An absolutely terrific 4-part madrigal. Loads of energy and sweetness. Bursting at the seams with syncopation and rhythm. This one was simply a blast to record - although the drop-C tuning (low E to C) was new, especially as I had to read the line down two octaves.
Thomas Morley (1557-1602) - A quick and fun duet. A bit risqué with the text in the usual in-directed style of the 1600's (we're not talking D.H. Lawrence here).  But the title kind of tells you this is not one that would be sung during Sunday mass.

 

Henry Purcell (1658 - 1695) -  Purcell's Bourree is really more Baroque than Renaissance in character (you'll find it sounds a lot more like Bach then Elway Bevin.  This Bourree is a standard dance form from the period.

 

Henry Purcell (1658 - 1695) -  This is a very nice three-part light and quick dance.
Thomas Morley (1557-1602) - A cute 3-part tune.  Quick, light and very spring-like in spirit. 
Thomas Morley (1557-1602) - A 5-part madrigal, very pretty a little sad, about Tom's unrequited love for some hottee of the time named, "Phyllis" (who was apparently sweeter than Amaryllis (that's a flower... I had to look it up!)
Thomas Morley (1557-1602) - A really cool, quick 5-part madrigal.  Rhythmic, breezy and fun.
John Dowland (1563 - 1626) - a short, stately dance.  But composed with Dowland's flair for the subtle, wonderful harmonies, unexpected chord changes and great melody lines one of (if not the) premier English Renaissance composer of his time simply knocked out.
John Dowland (1563 - 1626) - from the Ayres for Four Voices - a beautiful madrigal - almost too short. 
John Dowland (1563 - 1626) - from the Ayres for Four Voices - really, really short - cute madrigal 
John Dowland (1563 - 1626) - from the Ayres for Four Voices - very interesting quick tune (at least in my interpretation!). Fantastic and unexpected chord changes throughout. 
John Dowland (1563 - 1626) - from the Ayres for Four Voices - Lovely rhythmic, medium-tempo tune, somewhat like "If my complaints" 
John Dowland (1563 - 1626) - from the Ayres for Four Voices - a really gorgeous, sensitive slow madrigal.  ** sorry about the background noise in this recording...I'll go and re-do it in a bit.  It's worth a better play... 
John Dowland (1563 - 1626) - from the Ayres for Four Voices - A simple, slow, graceful minuet.  Nice sleeping music. 
John Dowland (1563 - 1626) - from the Ayres for Four Voices - A famous Ayre (song). A bit sad, but pretty. 
John Dowland (1563 - 1626) - from the Ayres for Four Voices - Another Dowland unusual harmonic treasure.  With unlikely chord changes, mimicking the song title. 
John Dowland (1563 - 1626) - from the Ayres for Four Voices - A gorgeous, sad, stately song, with biting dissonance and terrific lines. 
John Dowland (1563 - 1626) - A really enchanting, melancholy, slow song - almost sounds like a Christmas Carol. Definitely the kind of tune that might end a Renaissance play.
Robert Jones (1597 - ~1620) - Okay, I took some liberties with this one.  But it was fun.  A cooking late Renaissance number, with a great beat. And by the sound of things, Kate must of have been some heart-breaker.
John Bennett (1570-1614)  - Inspired by a John Dowland tune (Lachrymae) - this is another popular choral madrigal.  Beautiful, slow and sweet.
English Recordings - Recorded in 2009
John Bennett (1570-1614) - A terrifically cute (and just as short) work by a wonderful little known composer.  This is a 4-part Madrigal. And I probably should have played it through a couple of times (I think it's like... 35 seconds long :-)
Thomas Campion (1567-1620) - So - as it turns out, I'm not only losing my hair in my old age, my memory's turning to swiss cheese. I'd already recorded a version of this classic song/madrigal.  But I kind'a like the way this newer rendition turned out, so I'm uploading it. When I was a kid, I never had a problem "doubles" in baseball cards. I guess some traits die hard.
John Dowland (1563 - 1626) - Not a double(!) - this poignant lute song has a haunting and deeply moving melody line - harmonized by stunning chords arranged by Bill Long. It's one of my Dowland favorites. Listen to the melody line in the last part of the last verse as it depicts flowing tears.
John Dowland (1563 - 1626) - Well - another mysterious, and somber work by a composer that definitely knows from mysterious and somber. This beautiful madrigal, full of contemporary harmonies and lines is about - as my best friend puts it, "When the Great Lifeguard calls you out of the pool".  Extremely beautiful (I run out of adjectives a lot doing these "liner notes")
John Dowland (1563 - 1626) - Wouldn't you know it - just when you think Dowland's a sort of "Dr. Hemlock" or something, he writes this spirited lute piece for queen Liz.  Of course times being what they were I think uplifting and sassy tunes dedicated to royalty were probably the way to go - when trying to stay out of the Tower of London. My only regret is that I wish I'd played this particulay recording a little better (not that I"m worried about Lizzie's revenge - just, Dowland deserves better)
Anthony Holborne (1545 - 1629) - I've wanted to record this for a long time.   It's a wonderful solo lute piece (and the name of a Renaissance band I put together in Coventry, CT during the late 1990's.  Fun, up-tempo and engaging.
Thomas Morley (1557-1602) So, here starts the Morley tunes.  I love this composer. I'm not a musicologist (duh... just read the liner notes), but to my ears Thomas Morley was second to none, when it came to just raw genius and writing talent in this genre.  This fun little duet is very famous - and yes, that's how "go" is spelled on my sheet music.  :-)
Thomas Morley (1557-1602) - Another double (?) you ask.  Actually yes and no. Apparently what Morley (and probably other composers) did was what we at my present employer call, "re-purposing". So this is the 2-part version of "It was a lover and his lass" that I recorded 4 or 5 years ago.  And there's a 3-part version as well.  All kind of neat - as the different textures make the total effect original.  (thus the value or repurposing - as they say on Sports Center, "That's my story, and I'm sticking to it")
Thomas Morley (1557-1602) My latin's not so good - but I don't think this tune is about dancing at carnivals. A beautiful, deep and spiritual sacred work. There's a "ficta" - an early music accidental note in my version that has me playing a C (natural) and C# simultaneously. You can't miss it - (trust me) and as I wondering why such dissonance was used, about the only thing I could come up with was that it would absolutely wake the congregation up - in case the sermon had droned on a bit long that Sunday.
Thomas Morley (1557-1602) This soft, slow dance is absolutely amazing. At least it was for me. As I was practicing it, it seemed (I dunno) - captivating in a hypnotic fashion. But when I finally got a chance to hear all the parts together - especially the middle refrain - I was blown away by the simple sweetness of its expression.
Thomas Morley (1557-1602) I'm not sure about this ... I always figured church (aka sacred) music was kept safely away from secular tunes (like Pavannes and other dances).  This is a very pretty 4-part selection. As a bonus, it's got one of those cool 4/4 to cut 3/4 time changes near the end. 
Thomas Morley (1557-1602) Okay - so here's Morley at his doing his best poignant-Dowland thing. Stately, and with a gorgeous melody.
Thomas Morley (1557-1602) - Three new Morley madrigals. Uptempo and jovial - and short!  Both hail from his "First Book of Ayres" - 1594. The "frieth" reference is to Morley's heart which (never dieth, rhymes, right?) - not his tummy.  The third madrigal "I will no more come to thee" is basically about what happens you a Renaissance composer gets dumped by his damsel ("I will no more come to thee, that floutst me when I woo thee").  Bummer....but this guy seems unconcerned (he's got a good libido :-)
Henry Purcell (1658 - 1695) -  I know nothing about this 4-part piece, except that it absolutely rocks, and is at the top of my technical range.  Absolutely worth a listen.  Stunning.  Thanks (as always) to Sue Iadone who found the arrangement.
Henry Purcell (1658 - 1695) -  Another very cool Purcell tune - vocal duet from Orpheus Britannicus. I think it's sung by (or to) Anne Kingsmill Finch - Countess of Winchilsea  (not that I have first-hand knowledge, I'm limited to Google searches).  

Never having met a countess - I wasn't quite sure how to interpret the lines, but gave it my best shot.  The mood seems a little restrained at first. But Purcell makes up for the languied start, by getting kind of, out-ofhand and of emotional, as he digs into the work. Nice (cute) interplay between the voices towards the end. 
Henry Purcell (1658 - 1695) -  An awesome chaconne and yet another wonderful transription from the Early Guitar.net - which is a terrific site that features transcriptions of renaissance and baroque music for guitar (solos and duets). There are dozens of excellent arrangements here - with midi file included for easy learning. 
Henry Purcell (1658 - 1695) -  A wonderful 4-part recorder transcription from Sue Iadone - of a stately dance from Purcell's The Fairy Queen - a Renaissance opera.  The top line's a bit high (you'll hear :-) ... but it's a glorious little work.  

As a performance note? For many of these arrangements where the top line hung out above the 12th frett I often doubled it an octave lower, to "fatten" the  sound, and soften the "plink" effect :-)
John Taverner (1490 - 1545 ) According to Sue Iadone - "This is the mother of all In Nomines. It's the very first one ever written - all others are based on this".  It's also quite beautiful.  I guess - with all those other composers, imitation was the highest form of flattery.  
William Byrd (1540 - 1623) -  So, I'm looking for new early music to record, and noticed that I have very little William Byrd.  A premier composer of the time - who wrote with strong counter-point, and a lyrical touch.  This 3-part arrangement is a very nice madrigal that's one of Byrd's more popular compositions. 
William Byrd (1540 - 1623) -  Since I'm on this kick of playing choral pieces on guitar I found another popular Byrd selection - this 5-part madrigal.  With terrific rhythms - 3 - going to 4  etc.  (the technical term is hemiola).  But never mind the music theory. This is a wonderful song. 
Adrian Willaert (1490-1562) - This is a beautiful 4-part madrigal is by one of my favorite composers.  Vecchie Letrose has actually been recorded a number of times. It's a part-song in Italian: Vecchie letrose non valete niente se non per far l'agguato per la piazza tira, tira la mazza vecchie letrose, scandalose e pazze.  

And the guitar tapping was another wonderful Sue Iadone concept (not bad for a recorder and gamba playah)
Thomas Ford (1580 - 1648) - these wonderful transriptions are from the Early Guitar.net - a terrific site that features transcriptions of renaissance and baroque music for guitar (solos and duets). There are dozens of excellent arrangements here - with midi file included for easy learning. Both Mr. Southcote's Pavin, Galliard and Monsieur Lullere His Choice are originally duets for Lyra Viol (thanks Dana!).  With the Pavin and Galliard meant to be performed together.  Both are rather beautiful - with the Pavin being stately (even dramatic and bold!) - and Galliard strapping and uptempo.  Monsieur Lullere is uptempo, tuneful and sweet.

You can read more about these pieces on Early Guitar.net).  (IMHO) The pavin works on guitar as well as on Lyra Viols - thanks largely to the excellent arrrangements.
Thomas Campion (1567-1620) - Another terrific, uptempo lute duet, transcribed and available at  Early Guitar.net - a terrific site that features transcriptions of renaissance and baroque music for guitar (solos and duets). There are dozens of excellent arrangements here - with midi file included for easy learning. 
Daniel Bacheler (1572 - 1619) -  This wonderful tune is a testimony to Lady Walsingham - a shrine built in the 1000's by a Saxon noblewoman in Walingham, Norfolk - U.K.  

Bacheler is a wonderful composer, famous in his time for lute playing and lute compositions, at least one of which is played in the standard solo classical guitar repertoire (by players a LOT better than me).  

This particular piece is from a book of consort works for four instruments, and if you check out the last section you'll understand what a virtuoso he must have been. 
English Recordings - Recorded in 2010
Thomas Ravenscroft (1582-1635) - This amazing set of mysterious and enchanting rounds was composed by Thomas Ravenscroft - who was noted for his canons, rounds and popular tunes. This piece reminded me (seriously) of incidental (background) music to the Harry Potter film series.
John Dowland (1562-1626) - A really terrific and harmonically rich setting of "If my complaints" by JD (John Dowland).  The arrangement came from Alain Naigeon's fine site of free PDFs.  From this landing page - select the link at the top for Scores
John Dowland (1562-1626) - This magnificent lute solo - which I've multi-tracked, is a piece I've wanted to record for years - decades actually.  The arrangement is by Frederick Noad, and is a signature work - something I can't recommend highly enough. After a thoughtful beginning where Dowland introduces the themes, the tune takes off using a number of variations and ends with an incredible triumphant flourish.  Worth a listen.
Thomas Lupo (1571 - 1627) - A wonderful three-part, uptempo trio, with fabulous counterpoint - and challenging riffs. Wicked fun to record :-)

William Byrd (1659 - 1695)  - The Fantasy Quartets are two really cool, fast and very interesting quartets. Amazing melodic hooks (little swatches of melody that will stick in your head ... for a long time). The only problem I have with these pieces is that they're too short (I probably should have played through them twice).

The Selinger's Round piece I interpreted as an early drinking song. This particular arrangement starts with a solo guitar, sort of mimicking warming up on the tune. Then it launches into a 4-part choral arrangement - and back into solo guitar, with the idea being the guitar player's been drinking throughout the rendition (nah.....)

The Woods So Wild was a totally fun 4-part dance piece, that COMPLETELY rips off the "B section" of John Dowland's "Can she excuse my wrongs" ...  (Don't take my word for it.. check it out).  Amazing, but I guess copyright laws were not so widely enforced, in the 1500's.  A cool piece tho - quick and stinkin' high on the guitar  :-)
Henry Purcell (1658 - 1695) - This is an amazing vocal work arranged for four recorders. It's actually one of the most beautiful songs on the site. My guitar can't really do justice to the lead (melody) - but the recorder arrangement has some wonderful interplay. Worth a listen. 
Adrian Willaert (1490-1562) - This Ricercare is an interesting, quick 3-part Ricercare, that has some dazzling counterpoint, and wonderful rhythms and lines. At 2:15 the tune jumps from 4/4 to 3/4 - very cool.  The arrangement came from Alain Naigeon's fine site of free PDFs.  From this landing page - select the link at the top for Scores

Virgo Gloriosa is a slow, haunting and beautiful 4-part sacred choral work.  Actually, very beautiful.
Anthony Holborne (1545 - 1629) - This is an absolutely beautiful, slow, mysterious and sad pavane in three large sctions that well represents its title. Interestingly the last section ends on a more upbeat feeling than the first two parts.  The arrangement came from Alain Naigeon's fine site of free PDFs.  From this landing page - select the link at the top for Scores

Thomas Morley (~1557 - 1602) - Lo, Here another love  is a neat simple duet by Morley.  The arrangement can be found on Klassiskgitar.net

La Caccia was a technically challenging two-part (duet) with incredible poly-rhythms (rhythmic elements/counterpoint that play off one another).
William White (1571 -1634) - A really nice 6-part pavane by a composer I'd never heard of before. Cool parts - some intricate work on the top line.  I might have played this a little too fast, but it just felt right at this tempo.
The arrangement came from Alain Naigeon's fine site of free PDFs.  From this landing page - select the link at the top for Scores.
Robert Johnson (1583 - 1634) - A 4-part choral work that was extremely challenging (at this tempo) - at least for me - in the 2nd half of the tune (wait for it ... ~20 seconds in). This 2nd part was quite the tone poem (music that represents life through sound).  Besides - how can you find a song with a title like this, and not play it?
John Bedyngham - died circa 1460 - You know that a composer's obscure when Wikipedia doesn't have an article on him. This is a very elegant and poignant 3-part song in very early, Early Music style. The intro/extro is my improv.
English Recordings - Recorded in 2011
Daniel Bacheler (1572 - 1619) -    Bacheler is a wonderful composer, famous in his time for lute playing and lute compositions; which today are often played in the standard classical guitar repertoire.  BTW - there seems to be as many different spellings of Bacheler's name as there are references to his music on the Internet.  I've seen it: Bachiler, Bachelar, Bacheler, and I think even the same three with a "t" thrown in for good measure (Batchiler).  

Almaine is originally for lute.  I first heard John Williams play this ("Virtuoso Variations") in 1967.  I couldn't find a link to where you could buy this recording today (it's in vinyl) - but it - like all the rest of John Williams work - his recording is simply brilliant.

John Dowland (1562-1626) - Three terrific ayres from several of Dowlands publications.  

I'd done Clear or Cloudy before but wasn't happy with the result (so redid it this year).

The Pavan XXI  is a wonderful 5-part instrumental dance.

Feigh on This Feigning is a fast-ish tune - upbeat.  Apparently Dowland was impatient with feigning.

Time Stands Still is a gorgeous slow song - with a wonderful text behind it.  
Time stands still with gazing on her face,
Stand still and gaze for minutes, hours and years, to give her place:
All other things shall change, but she remains the same,
Till heavens changes have their course and time hath lost his name.

Anthony Holborne (1545 - 1629) -  I had a number of site visitors this past year tell me that they wanted to see more from Holborne - and recommended "Heigh Ho Holiday"  and "As it Fell on a Holie Eve".

Nice call.  I recorded them, and also:
  • The Faerie Round - which I really love, taken from a lute transcript - awesome rhythms - 
  • Spero - a beautiful lament in 4 parts
  • Nite Watch - which is also a re-do of something I did a few years back.  This version is a 5-part recorder arrangement
  • Infernum - an interesting 4-part madrigal
Giles Farnaby  (1563 - 1640) Originally a virginal piece and basically a "theme + variations" musical form, this arrangement by Paul Clark is as enchanting as it is deep and resonant. 
Robert White (1538 - 1574) -  This is a beautiful religious choral work.  I begin and end it with the chant - and if you listen carefully, you can hear that same chant throughout in the top line.  Terrific harmonies.
Robert Johnson (1583 - 1634) - This is a "request" recording from a site visitor.  It's become one of my favorite tunes - and has wonderful "sticks in your head" melody.
Richard Allison (~1560 - 1610) - This year was kind of like "the year of the Pavanne" - with (I dunno') 8, 10? instrumental Pavan recordings by various authors.  This one was very clean and nice - with a solo in the "A" section that sets the mood.
Richard Deering (1580 - 1630) - a slower Pavan (at least the way I heard it) - based on the minor chords it begins with.  Most of these dances are less melancholy.  Very pretty tho' - with interesting harmonic changes in the "B" section.  The "C" section sort of takes off - with faster riffs, and great counterpoint.
Thomas Tallis (1505 - 1585) - Thomas Tallis is a very famous composer of the period, known primarily for his religious and choral works.  He also studied with Elway Bevin, my favorite completely unknown composer.  This is short, sweet little 4-part madrigal.
Thomas Morley (~1557 - 1602) - Southernes Pavin is a typical 4 part instrumental dance of the period.  All these Pavins (pavans, pavannes, etc.) take the same 3-part form (an "A", "B" and "C" section) each with repeats.  It's probably just my selections, but the "C" sections are always the most interesting  :-)

My Bonnie Lass - is a famous 5 part madrigal, often sung by high school and college choirs - made even more famous by PDQ Bach's rendition of it from the 1970's.
John Dunstable (1390 - 1453) - a very early (born in 1390!) important English early composer.  That (the time he composed in) is why you hear the almost Gregorian Chant sounds in these pieces.  It's funny (at least for me) when I first started playing Early Music I gravitated towards the Renaissance sounds - and didn't really like the clean, sparse somber(?) sounds of the earlier periods.  But over time I've come to really love them.  Have a listen to Tout a por moy for a really lovely example.  These Dunstable pieces create the same mood.
Thomas Lupo (1571 - 1627) - a fantastic BBT (Bass 1, Bass2, and Tenor voiced) instrumental Fantasia by an excellent mid-to-late Renaissance composer.  Full of interesting mood changes and beautiful lines.  Similar to the other recorded Lupo pieces on this site.
John Johnson (1545- 1594) - another Pavin (!) - this one bright and bouncy - it's often done by lute and guitar duos, as you'll see if you visit the Wikipedia link to John Johnson.
William Byrd (1540 - 1623)  - This 3-part Fantasy (like other Byrd Fantasias) is amazing.  With wonderful internal harmonies, rhythms, counterpart and lines.  Also - these pieces are not as short - so their substance is a nice alternative to the 1 minute  - or less - works on this site.
Odd-country pieces - Russia, etc.
Tchaikovsky (1840-1893) - (Not even a little bit) Early Music, but this was just too much fun to do. From a 5-recorder arrangement. Enjoy (ya' gotta crack a smile, no?).  

Especially nice, are the simulated harp parts at :38 and at the end.   Also - and this may be a non-sequitor, but at 1:02 the score calls for a B above B above middle C - the highest fretted note on my guitar ... I'd never played it before :-)
English Recordings - Recorded in 2013
Peter Phillips (1560 - 1628) - this wonderful trio was a gift from Sue Iadone.  It's a terrific 3-part instrumental canon.
Orlando Lasso (1532 - 1594) - Lasso was one of the primary musical geniuses of his time.  This wonderful song (roughly translated  - "my heart belongs to you") - is in four parts, and is as soft and warm as its title.

Thomas Weelkes (1576 - 1623) - Two choral works

Two short pieces that represent Weelkes fine choral style.  These arrangements are from the Edinburgh Guitar Society site - and specifically, arranged by Steve Nixon.  Thanks  Steve for the work.  They sound terrific.
Thomas Morley (1557-1602)  - Two short pieces  
  • Besides a fountain - A choral transcription - done up for guitar by Steve Nixon - whom you can contact at the Edinburgh Guitar society
  • Fantasy - a short three-part instrumental, typically played on recorders
Three mulligans  - do-overs ... re-recordings of English pieces already on this site

I'd recorded Browning, Recercare and the Witches' Dance back in '99.  They were among my first attempts to play/record/produce multi-tracked guitar ensemble music.  And they sounded it (especially the production).  So this year I decided to re-record them
  • Browning is my all-time favorite Early Music work - by - arguably - the least well-known composer of all time, with the best name:  Elway Bevin
  • Recercare is by Adrian Willaert, and is a sublime 3-part instrumental
  • Witches' Dance is incidental music to Shakespeare's "Macbeth" (bubble..bubble..toil and trouble)  - very cute tune.  Not really scary witches

France and Franco-Flemish composers
  Josquin Des Pres (1450 - 1521).  Probably the most important Flemish composer of the Renaissance, Josquin is especially noted for the expressive nature of his music, a trait that broke with the medieval tradition of more abstract music.  His artistic abilities were compared to those of Michelangelo, and Martin Luther is quoted: "Josquin is master of the notes, which must express what he desires; other choral composers must do what the notes dictate."  Josquin was born in Italy, but moved to France mid-way through his life.  From: http://w3.rz-berlin.mpg.de/cmp/josquin.html      Come peult is a 4-part chanson. 
Claude Le Jeune (1503 -1600). This another French chanson, has been recorded and performed by many choral groups. I tend to like the way it sounds as an instrumental. Lots of two and three part rhythmic inter-play between the parts. You may note that this song is somewhat softer than the others, and sounds different (audio-wise).  This is because, for all the other songs I used stereo mic'ng, but not Revecy. The parts are still clear in this rendition, and some may like it better - non-stereo mic'd. 
Johannes Ghiselin (1445 - 1508).  Ghiselin - also known as Verbonnet was court composer to the king of France.  He was regarded as one of the leading composers of his time.  This is terrific little 3-part chanson. 
Josquin Des Pres (1450 - 1521).  (see above description of Josquin).  Se je perdu mon ami - is one of Josquin's most popular chansons. 
Josquin Des Pres (1450 - 1521).  A beautiful, mysterious, 4-part sacred motet.  This is one I need to re-record - it deserves better.
Josquin Des Pres (1450 - 1521).  (see above description of Josquin).  One of the strangest 4-part songs you'll ever hear.  The voice sings one note throughout (D above middle C). In fact, according to Susan Iadone, this particular part is noted in a side-bar as "Vox Regis" (The King's Part)... we leave the interpretation of this note, up to you.  Short, quirky and cool. 
Jacob Arcadelt (circa 1505 - 1568) -  Composed sacred music and madrigals, including this wonderful tune: "The sweet white swan".  This tune has an interminable # of meter changes - from 3/2 - to 4/4 back and forth... etc.  It gives the work kind of a plain-song, or chant feel. 
Guillaume Costeley (1531 - 1606). This terrific chanson, was another choral piece that I believe sounds great as an instrumental. Very jazzy rhythms and inner parts, especially towards the end. Note that, I'm basically doing the Joe and Susan Iadone arrangement of this, where the piece is divided up into three sections, each of which is fractionally slower than the last. For what it's worth, this was not easy to do with a click-track (audible to those listening closely). 
Claude Sermisy (1490 - 1562) - a stately delicate 4-part motet.  Airy and light - like some fine piece of old French embroidery, this (too short) piece is easy on the ears.
Claude Sermisy (1490 - 1562) - a terrific, light 3-part "almost-a-round" madrigal that bounces in and out of 3 and 4.  You can't help but smile listening to this piece.
Claude Sermisy (1490 - 1562) - a composer and priest, this secular piece is hauntingly beautiful - sounding a lot like Dowland, in its harmonic complexity.
Pierre Passereau (1553 - ?) - French composer. A singer at Bourges cathedral, he contributed twenty-three chansons to anthologies published int the middle 1500's. Most of these are humorous, lively and intensely rhythmic - as this selection testifies. (very busy parts!)
Clement Jannequin (1485–1558) - French composer, famous for his descriptive four-part chansons. He also composed motets and spiritual chansons.  This one's a slow, strikingly beautiful 4-part motet.  I apologize for some weird mic noise, randomly in this recording.  I'll go back and re-do it, when I have the time.
Nicholas Craen (1445 - 1507)- Franco/Flemish composer who flourished circa: 1507.   Latin for: "He ascended into heaven..." (2nd Psalms, Chapter 8).  This is an incredibly intense selection (both rhythmically and melodically) in three parts by a relatively unknown early music composer.  
French/Franco-Flemish Recordings - Recorded in 2009
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Loyset Compere - (1445 – 1518)  This cool muscular (very) short piece is extremely medieval sounding, with fantastic polyphony, some great repeated phrase/patterns and a cool sort of sea-chanty/"nautical" sounding melody line at the end.
Clement Jannequin (1485–1558) - When I first started practicing this, I was afraid that it would end up recorded as, well, umm... "lightweight"?  Not solely because of the title. But in fact, the end result was pretty cool. A four part madrigal - fast, and fun - not lightweight too. 
Josquin Des Pres (1450 - 1521).  A six (count'm... 6) part vocal round. Very mystical sounding - but with a cool "3 against 4" rhytm towards the end. 
Josquin Des Pres (1450 - 1521).  A beautiful sensitive madrigal - slow.  You won't regret listening to it (sorry ... I tried but I could not resist) 
Josquin Des Pres (1450 - 1521).  A beautiful 3-part madrigal with flowing lines and open harmonies.
Josquin Des Pres (1450 - 1521).  This is an AMAZING 4-part secular tune with a double-cantus (possibly by Hayne), and a stunning double-cannon in the bass which is rhythmically aligned one quarter-note apart.  Hard to imagine until you hear it. 
Jacob Obrect - (~1457 - 1505)  - I remember Obrecht from my time at the Hartt School, but oddly this is the first recording I've done.  Thanks to Sue Iadone, this is a wonderful transcription of a "Ic drage de mutse clutse" -a lively, tuneful and mixed-meter (from 4 - to "wicked fast" 3 back to 4, etc.) selection.  Very cool.  I'm going to look for more like this.  

So - not a really cool tuneful secular part-song, "Parce Domine" is from the Catholic mass.  Extremely lovely.  As is Qui cum Patre...  Which is a gorgeous alto duet.

"Trio" is an amazing organ piece that I'm playing as three separate guitar lines.  Wonderful interplay and melodic patterns.  And "Tandernaken" - was from an (ATB - Alto, Tenor, Bass) recorder arrangement by Gil Garty.  Helas mon bien is another really sweet, fast, and brilliant part-song by Obrecht (and short... did I mention it's short?) 

"Rompeltier" is a lively secular song in 3/4 - with a kind of kid's tune, feel to it.  I repeated it enough times for all the parts to chime in. 

"Fors seulement" - is Obrecht's treatment of the Fors seulement chanson.  Very nice, contrapuntal 4-part arrangement.
Guillaume Costeley (1531 - 1606). This beautiful 4-part madrigal is elegant and rhythmically complex, switching meters every few measures.  Yet - it flows effortlessly.
French/Franco-Flemish Recordings - Recorded in 2010
Tielman Susato (1510-1570) - as a favor to my good friend Graeme Irwin, I went a'hunting for Susato tunes this year. Susato was a prolific composer of the high Renaissance, and knocked off a good many jaunty, tuneful dances:

3 Country Dances - arranged for brass by Michael Rondeau, this is a nifty collection of Susato melodies. Check the bass run at 1:00  :-)  Seems like brass players "got the chops"

Amoura Tort - typical of a lot these Susato pieces I recorded this year, light and easy on the ears. I especially liked the hook at :42.

Coingié m'aves donné - a very nice 4-part choral work   Beautiful cascading lines at 1:00. I'm sorry about all the background noise of the music rustling in the background.

De jour en jour - a short, elegant 3-part chanson - with a typical amazing Susato hook at the end.

Saltarelle - another awesome brass arrangement by Michael Rondeau, very cool with a bouncy feel and neat ensemble. Sorry that it was recorded so quietly.  I'll get the hang of this home recording technology one of these years.

Longtemps y a - Similar to De jour and Amoura (above), another great 3-part piece, with an interesting harmonic twist at :33 - and coolio little 16th note runs throughout.
Josquin Des Pres (1455 - 1527) - One ot the greatest masters of Early Music composition. Hard to find any part of any work of his that isn't simply extraordinary.

Coeurs desoles - a beautiful medium tempo 4-part work. The arrangement came from Alain Naigeon's fine site of free PDFs.  From this landing page - select the link at the top for Scores

Absalon fili mi - a sublime 3-part madrigal, from Sue Iadeone's collection. 

Fortuna Desperata - is from Sue Iadone's collection. It's a wonderful 3-part instrumental work, with a double cantus firmus in the top lines (and a fun bass line that noodles around throughout the tune). 
Heinrich Isaac (1450-1517) - one of my favorite composers. Hard to find anything he's written that isn't simply amazing - on every musical plain (melody, rhythm, structure, concept, etc.).

Here are this year's additions:

La Morra - a fantastic 3-part Early Music piece, with incredible counterpart and inverted lines. Only problem?  Too short.. 

La Martinella - an interesting "open" 3-part song with lots space between the notes and lines

Benedictus - another fantastic 3-part arrangement of a sacred work, with fast counterpoint throughout.

Adieu fille - well, turns out I'd recorded this one before (oops).  I hope I've improved it - over time. This piece really rocks with fast rhythmic parts. 

In meinen sinn - is a more introspective, medium/slow tempo Isaac part-song.

Ne Piu de queste - is an interesting choral work.  Part 1 is slow and dramatic. Then the piece takes off with typical Isaac-like rhythms, including morphing into "3/4" time at the end. I don't know why, but this recording is much louder than the others (sorry).

Jacobus Clemens non Papa (1510-1556) - a very cool sacred choral work, based on a Dutch folk song.  I took a few liberties with the song's intro/extro ... okay ... more than a few  :-)
Henry Fresneau (1538-1554) - I couldn't find much on this composer. But this is a gorgeous, slow, sad work with an arrangement by Sue Iadone.
Anonymous 14th century- This rare and very early 3-part piece is from Sue Iadone's collection.  It's a very beautiful example of early part-music, with strange wonderful, bold harmonic changes and challenging  rhythms. 
Gabriel Faure (1845-1924)   - First performed in 1888, this is hardly "early music" - but is one of my favorite choral pieces - ever. It actually sits pretty well on guitar in 5 parts (okay ... I think it does anyway). This arrangement can be found here, at Love Recorder
Guillame Dufay (1397-1474) - one of the greatest masters of the (really early) Early Music period, Ave regina coelorum is a beautiful 3-part sacred piece is representative of the strangely beautiful harmonies - and very open, clean melodies typical of the period.

Se la face ay pale is a secular 3-part work - with clever rhythms and wonderful counterpoint - especially at the end of the piece, which I play twice through. The first time adding parts one after another.

Proles de caelo - a hymn for the first vespers of St. Francis.  Lyrics by Pope Gregory IX.  This is a dreamy, delicate 3-part (ATB) sacred motet.  With a wonderful and memorable "A" section - that starts after the chant.
Gilles Binchois (1400-1460) - I hadn't done a lot of really early (pre-1500) early music before this year, so I decided to see what this delicate, transparent, mysterious would sound like on guitar. The fist tune I picked out was Tout a par moy. I think I got it from cpdl.org.  Anyway - what a gorgeous song. With an ethereal melodie (top line), and just captivating accompaniment (bottom 2 lines). I was immediately hooked, and totally intend to look for more like this next year.
Loyset Compere (1445-1518) - A very cool, somewhat early sounding (see above notes) chanson by a lesser-known, but wonderful composer. Last year I did Cay Phas (from Sue Iadone's collection). Se j'ay parle is not quite as muscular and intense, but still very nice.

Orlando di Lasso (153-1594) -  One of the great masters of the late Renaissance, Orlando di Lasso was a prolific composer of both sacred and secular music. Many of his works have survived and are sung annually by choirs - played by concert groups, etc.

Audite Nova - is a wonderful choral work, from a Sue Iadone arrangement. Fast - with stunning time-changes (think Dave Matthews) - especially around 1:00. Amazing.   

Baur, was tragt im sacke - another way cool choral tune. Check out the parallel runs down, starting at :33. Gorgeous stuff.  Ends with an awesome melodic hook.

Cor meum - a beautiful 3-part choral work. Wonderful, rich harmonies - and a surprise major key ending - given where the piece begins.

Quand mon mary - is a 4-part choral work I had some fun with, during intro/extro.  For some reason I felt the song as a Spanish-like number. I hope Orlando's not too ticked off by my interpretation.
French/Franco - Flemish Recordings - Recorded in 2011
Francois Couperin (1668 - 1733 ) - This absolutely stunning tune is one of my all-time favorites.  Originally written for early keyboard - it's originally from "Pieces de Clavecin" - the "mysterious barricades" is played on harpsichord, piano and classical guitar.   This is a winner - if you've never heard it before crank it.

Watching the news these days, reading the paper, catching any of the media's take on where events are going; It could easily lead you to believe that world's headed straight off a cliff.  That is, unless you've had the great fortune to have a friend like Dr. Robert K. Ax. 

Bob is one of the few people on this earth, who has lived a life of:  Contribution, humor, intelligence, charity, honesty, and loyalty - bringing acute judgment, eloquence and clarity to his days, to his work and to his world (which luckily includes his friends).  

I knew Bob's dad - who was also a great, great man - and sadly, for a very, very short time his mom - and they would both have been uncommonly proud of you Bob-O.


I've had the incredible fortune to have known Bob - and called him "best friend" for almost 50 years.  And I humbly dedicate this - my favorite recording on the site to him.  

Here's to another (I'll settle for) 20 years of grousing over politics (which in the U.S. does seem to be going to hell), and to conversations about movies, sports, life, and pike fishing in Canada.

Gilles Binchois (1400 - 1460) - I found a collection named: "Sechzehn Weltliche Lieder" (16 secular songs) - in 3 parts.  They're all quite beautiful, and short, with sophisticated rhythms typical of this period and composer.  The top line is the "melody" and was sung or played by a "lead" instrument - although in the tenor - not soprano - vocal range.  

The sounds of these (and Dufay and Machaut) selections are all early - Early Music, reminiscent of chant - with open intervals (4ths and 5ths - think the intro. to "Smoke on the Water" and sometimes startling (dissonant) sounds - again, think "Smoke on the Water"  :-)
Guillame Dufay (1397 - 1474) - Three 3-part secular songs that are - while early - Early Music, are lighter and more playful.  

"J'atendray" is really sweet.  I play through it three times - starting with the top line, and adding lines as I go.  The melody's so nice it stands up to being isolated like this.
Josquin Des Pres (1455 - 1527) - No set of annual recordings is complete without the obligatory Josquin pieces.  While these (very different instrumental works) are not among the best in his catalog, an "average" Josquin work - with melodic brilliance (check out the opening to "Ile fantazies") will be up there with the best of any other composer.
Heinrich Isaac (1450 - 1517) - As goes for Josquin - so it goes for Isaac.  At some point (some year) I will run out of Isaac pieces to record - a lousy year to be sure.

Hierusalem Surge is from "Choralis Constantinus" - check out the Wikipedia entry if you have time - 's quite an interesting read.  This is wonderful work.

Hor an mein Klag - sounds more like an informal drinking song of the period.
Guillame Machaut (1300 - 1390) - This is my first Machaut recording - long overdue, as Machaut was one of the most influential and brilliant composers of his time.  "Ma fin..." is an incredible work.  

The piece is in two parts, and is a "reverse canon" - meaning that at the end of the first part, the lines play - note for note - the musical passages in reverse (think C D E F G A ... becomes: A G F E D C).
Jacob Obrect (1457 - 1505) - Two wonderful selections by a master of contrapuntal writing.  Kanon is a two-part bass "canon" - with one instrument (almost note-for-note) replicating anothers' part a few beats later.

Helas mon bien is a terrific up-tempo 3-part instrumental work - this nifty little work almost made it into "favorites" status - except I've already got too many (favorites).
Anonymous (French Cypriot - early 1400s) - This is an amazing, mysterious piece in 3 parts, with absolute killer poly-rhythms.  Subtle and fantastic.
French/Franco - Flemish Recordings - Recorded in 2012
Gabriel Faure (1845-1924)   - Two more recordings of movements from the Faure Requiem - transcribed for recorders (I'm just playing the recorder lines on guitar). - a very famous Faure' Pavanne for orchestra (also played from a 6-part recorder arrangement)
  • Libera me is this wonderful, strict, mysterious but lilting (only Faure pulls this off, eh?) Baritone solo.  
  • Pie Jesu is a slow, delicate Soprano solo.  Wonderful chords throughout, plus these amazing harp-like riffs - give this relaxing piece a surprising warmth to go along with the beauty of the melody.  Check out the stunning change of texture @ 2:00.
  • Pavane - a (traditionally) orchestral work that I'd never thought of recording until I saw the recorder arrangement on the web.  Sounds amazing on classical guitar  - almost like Faure' composed it for the instrument in mind.
Maurice Ravel (1875-1937)   - I've wanted to play this work forever - more or less.  It's a stunningly beautiful first couple of mintes from the second movement of the Piano Concerto in G major.  

Short personal note?  I asked a friend of mine (a classical guitarist @ Hartt College) to play this at my wedding ceremony, 34 years ago.  Ethereal - and - I dunno' .. is there such a thing as a "perfect" composition in any genre'?  If there, this gets awfully close.
French/Franco - Flemish Recordings - Recorded in 2013
Gabriel Faure (1845-1924)   -  Additional recordings from the Faure Requiem

I've always loved the Faure Requiem - for orchestra, chorus and soloists (Baritone & Soprano voice).   You'd have to wonder ... how is it that this piece renders on 6-string classical guitar?  That's a great question - and all I can say in defense of these recordings is that everything sounds better on guitar.  :-)

Anyway - all I'm going to say about these pieces is how much I love them - to listen to, and play.  If you're looking for quality musicology and descriptions you're best off hitting the web.  You can Google: Faure Requiem - and find lots of entries.  Wikipedia's always a great place to start.

One final note?  I've recorded all of the Requiem except for the Offertoire.  I'll try to get to it in 2014.

Heinrich Isaac (1450 - 1517)

A wonderful short piece about lost love.
Josquin de Prez (1450 - 1521)

Two nice short choral works from one of the preeminent composers of Early Music.

Spain

The selections from Spain, sound wonderfully provincial - emotional, with romantic lines, and quintessential Spanish guitar chordal harmonies & tonal intervals.

Juan del Encina (1468 - 1529). This beautiful sad, three-part Spanish vocal tune is one of the most simple and understated treasures in the literature. The entire song is composed of maybe 100 notes (total, all three parts), but every note counts. 

** Note this version was recently re-recorded and mixed.  It's probably a bit louder and clearer than other selections on this site.

Anonymous - Another slow, enchanting song about the Spanish moon. Almost mystical in sound, this beautiful four-part selection will remind you of Juan Del Encino's Soy Contento. 
Anonymous  - published in the Cancionero de Uppsala (1566).  One of the most beautiful melodies of any period,. Si La Noche has a tendency to stick in your head, after listening to it. In a perfect world, I'd have had either a baritone vocalist (ideal) or some low viol or wind instrument (bass recorder would be nice) play the melody (top line). But then?  Everything sounds better on guitar.
Anonymous - Like Ignacio (next selection), an energetic three-part vocal selection, which sounds terrific on guitar (as you would expect Spanish music to). This is one of my favorite up-tempo selections, with much interesting counter-point, and a rhythmic intensity. 
Anonymous - unknown origin. A cute, bright and very guitar-istic three part vocal tune. This is one of my favorites to play - and parts cook along without much effort from the player. Note at the "B" section how the rhythms change from "3" to "6" - a rhythmic expression later called: "Hemiola" - and used by composers to this day (a big favorite of Johannes Brahms). 
Anonymous - an adorable 2-part chase, with terrific syncopation and a pleasing melody. 
Diego Ortiz - 1510-1570.  A terrific two-part bass viol instrumental piece.  I have taken the liberty to fill out the chords (additional bass notes).  Catchy, and fun to play and listen to.

Diego Ortiz worked from 1555 to 1570 at the vice-regal court of the Duke of Alba in Naples.

Juan Boscan (1493 - 1542) - a beautiful 3-part Spanish madrigal. 
Gabriel Mena (flourished: 1500 - 1528) a terrific bouncy 2-part chase - between two instruments (in this case... one guitar - two tracks).
Juan del Encina (1468 - 1529) - a haunting, lyrical, very-Spanish, slow 3-part madrigal.
Juan del Encina (1468 - 1529) - another 3-part madrigal, quick and cool (this time) - brief too... sorry about that.
Juan del Encina (1468 - 1529) - another, lyrical, very-Spanish, slow 3-part madrigal.
Tomas Luis de Victoria (1548 - 1611) - a gorgeous religious four-part motet.
Anonymous - from the Cancioneiro de Uppsala n: XLII - There seem to be no end of terrific, lively adorable(?) short Spanish songs from this volume. All slightly different - and all sound terrific (to this guitarist's ears).
Mateo Flecha (1530 - 1604) bouncy, baritone solo, with 4-part choral harmony, this is a popular vocal piece arranged for four guitars (with an added punchy bass accompaniment thrown in for fun)
Spanish Recordings - Recrded in 2009
Johannes Cornago (14501475) One of the earliest Spanish court composers.  This lovely 4-part song should have been on this site a long time ago. It's simple, slow and lovely. 
Anonymous - published circa: 1556.  This charming little four-part Spanish madrigal is light, bouncy and has an interesting 3/4 --> 4/4 time change part-way through.  I wish we knew more about the Spanish composers - but I'm glad Sue Iadone transcribed this gem. 
Spanish Recordings - Recorded in 2010
Anonymous - Published 1556 in the Cancionero de Uppsala - As a guitarist you'd think (y'know) that Spanish music would be one of my favorite genres, seeing how guitar is like, the "national instrument of Spain" etc. But in years past, I've not done a whole lot of Spanish stuff. That's changed this year. Sue Iadone found a treasure trove of wonderful stuff - starting off with this sweet little tune (Soleta so jo aci).

A catchy enthusiastic melody, fantastic rhythmic parts and harmonies --  enjoy. 
Francisco de la Torre (1483-1504) - an extraodinary 3-part song from a composer who we can only wish had been around to write a little bit longer. 
Tomás Luis de Victoria (1548 - 1611) - a celebrated court composer, esepecially of vocal works.

O magnum mysterium is representative of Victoria's style - with lush, bold and rich harmonies - it even jumps into 3/4 - then back to 4 at the end. 

The Kyrie is a wonderful from a mass dedicated to "Beata Maria".  It was the first tune I recorded this year, and I love it - frankly (and I'm not even Catholic).

Beati Immaculati - is a strikingly beautiful somber sacred choral work.

Conditor alme siderum - is also from the Catholic mass. The version I found had the chant portion in front of the tune... so... I played it. Beautiful writing.
Juan del Encina (1468-1529) - a fast 4-part choral work, with changes from 3/4 - 2/4 and back. Check out the intro with its sweeping, ascending lines, and the "B section" with it's complete contrast of style.
Anonymous published 1556 in the Cancionero de Uppsala - a stunningly beautiful 4-part choral composition with, emotional depth, strength and senstitivity in equal measure.
Anonymous published 1556 in the Cancionero de Uppsala - a very cool four part choral work. I've played the top-line melody as the intro. The piece actually starts at :32 - and is fantastic.
Juan Vasquez (1500-1560) - a relatively unknown composer, this lively cancion is outstanding. 
Francisco Guerrero (1528-1599) -  Both of these selections were from Sue Iadaone. 

Esclaricida is an awesome, fast little tune with fantastic rhythms (see  :38 to the end)

Fresco y claro arroyuelo - is just beautiful. Wonderfully stated expression with few notes. And wonderful use silence (rest) as well as sound.
Spanish Recordings - Recorded in 2011
Heitor Villa-Lobos (1887 - 1959) -  Okay, so by his dates you can safely figure that Villa-Lobos is not an Early Music composer - nor is he from Spain (he's from Brazil).  But this is a very Spanish-like work, and I felt that it belonged in this section of the web page.  

Rosa Amarela is a really great, little piece - energetic and rhythmic in a Brazilian way (instead of Renaissance counterpoint think "jazz").

This selection is dedicated to Regi Barosa - a good friend of mine from IBM, a wonderful scuba diver/photographer and of course - Brazilian (!!).
Diego Ortiz (1510-1570). The ony other piece that I do by Diego Ortiz is  "Recercada Segundo" - which is fantastic.  

This Canzona is very different than the Recercad, and is a wonderful 4-part work, arranged for brass quartet by Michael Rondeau.
Anonymous (early 1500s) -  These are two short Spanish choral works; both of which sound very "at home" on guitar.  

Estas noches
- is introspective and haunting.  

Pues a dios is an interesting madrigal written for male choir (Bass 1, Bass 2, Tenor) - which sounds great on guitar given the fit with the pitch and tuning.  It has a terrific two-note ending.
Juan del Encina (1468-1529) - Two more Spanish choral works, by one of the great Spanish composers of the early Renaissance.  All of del Encina's compositions pass the "retention test" - in that they tend to hang around in your memory long after they've finished playing.

Germany
You can most definitely hear the heritage of "Germanic" culture and folk-music in these selections.  From Heinrich Isaac to Johannes Brahms

 

Three pieces arranged by Jorg Schonfelder. 
  • Von Edler Art - a melody, that was composed circa 1513, this beautiful song (also arranged some 300 years later by Johannes Brahms) has a stately majesty to it, that is transcendent. In the version here I play the tune through three times - the first with a concentration on the original four parts, the second with just the song and accompanying chord-reduction, and the third time combining song with chords.
  • Lass Mich Ein - Quick and very medieval-sounding, this instrumental selection (along with Von Edler Art that preceded it and Sieh Lieber Geselle that follows) seem not to have been recorded anywhere - at least not that I could find based on Internet searches.  It deserves to be.
  • Sieh Lieber Geselle - another terrific tune with a catchy melody that sticks in your head. Very quick rhythms.

About the Glogauer Liederbuch: A German MS song collection of c.1480, the first to be written out in partbooks. The Lieder, in 3 or 4 parts, are equally divided between sacred and secular texts, and there is also a quantity of pieces apparently for instrumental ensemble -- perhaps the earliest such collection to survive.

Ludwig Senfl (c.1490-1555). Composer to the Court & Chapel of Emperor Maximilian I, Ludwig Senfl studied with Heinrich Isaac (represented by Der Hund).  This selection is fabulous, with a macho bass line, and amazing use of interior part ascending/cascading scales. It's also got a terrific ending (just before the repeats), where the counter-point and intense jazz-like rhythmic work in the middle parts (especially 2nd treble line) is just too cool. 
Ludwig Senfl (c.1490-1555). Another funky Senfl tune - not quite as boisterous as Ich Weiss Nit, but it chugs along, and was probably in the top 10 list, of OktoberFest tunes, back in the day. One never knows such things 400 years later... but...based on the title we can assume Elslein was some Medieval hottie! 
Ludwig Senfl (c.1490-1555). Now this is obviously a bawdy drinking tune.  In fact, as I was recording it, I couldn't help but wonder if old Ludwig had been tipping a few while he was composing. 
Tielman Susato: Dansereye (1551) - Roughly translated, Schaeffertanz means shepherd's dance - not beer-dance. ** Thanks to Heinz Becker, for the translation!
Heinrich Isaac c. 1445 - 1517.  Der Hund (The Dog) - is a terrific up-tempo, instrumental piece that has been one of my favorites for the last 30 years. It's bold, quick and has terrific rhythmic counter-point throughout. 
Heinrich Isaac c. 1445 - 1517.  The composer of Der Hund and La Mi La Sol (see below) I don't think ever penned a bad tune.  This one is short, fun, melodic and with some cool odd meter - predating Dave Matthews by, oh, say four centuries.
Michael Praetorious, 1571-1621 - I heard this amazing piece while attending the Hartt College of Music, in the early 1970's. My guitar instructor at the time (Alan Spriestersbach) had arranged it for solo guitar. It sounded great, and I wanted to play it, but was never good enough to master as a solo.  So I've recorded the 4-part arrangement - and am dedicating it to Tracey Irwin wife of Graeme Irwin (my friend and Consett U.K.'s cyclist extraodinaire). Tracey's been through a wringer in 2009. I told Graeme to say something nice about her for this dedication, and this is what he wrote: For Tracey......................for putting up with me all these years and for making me realise just how lucky I am every day ( LWP) .
Michael Praetorious, 1571-1621 - I used to play an arrangement of this fast dance piece on solo classical guitar.  The melody is actually Italian (La Volta).  Cool arrangement by Susan Iadone.
Anonymous - A quick, rhythmically intense, and fabulous short piece, "Die Katzenpfote" translates roughly into "the cat's feet" - and you can hear the music-imitating-life aspect of this title.
Heinrich Isaac (c. 1445 - 1517). One of Heinrich Isaac's secular songs - "Innsbruck, I must leave you."  Seems almost like some kind of Early Music Fraternity pledge song.  Almost folk-like in nature.
Heinrich Isaac c. (1445 - 1517). An enjoyable, short 3-part rhythmic and fun part song.  Fast, and with terrific over-lapping lines and voices.
Heinrich Isaac c. (1445 - 1517).  One of Heinrich Isaac's secular songs - "I stood upon a morning..."
Heinrich Isaac c. (1445 - 1517).  One of Heinrich Isaac's secular songs - "I was surrounded by sorrow."  This and "Ich stund" (above) and a few others of these slow, pretty numbers are not as impressive musically as their quicker, more polyphonic counterparts.  But if you listen, the melodies tend to "stick" in your mind... calm and lovely.
Michael Praetorious, (1571-1621) A Michael Praetorious setting of a traditional Christmas song. 
  • Dedication: This piece in memory of Jean Olwyn Irwin, someone, much missed, much loved and always remembered ... who shared a love of great music that like her memory will always live on.
Ludwig Senfl (c.1490-1555). Slow and melancholy 5-part song.
Heinrich Isaac c. 1445 - 1517.  A cool new, fast and furious four-part song.  Awesome counter-point (as you would expect no less from Isaac).
Heinrich Isaac c. 1445 - 1517.  A pretty 3-piece polyphonic work, that is vintage Isaac.
Orlando di Lasso (1532-1594) - Orlando di Lasso (aka Roland de Lassus &  Roland Delattre), is considered one of the greatest polyphonists of the late Renaissance .  This is a stunningly beautiful 4-part (TTBB) sacred madrigal.
Orlando di Lasso (1532-1594) - Orlando di Lasso (aka Roland de Lassus &  Roland Delattre).  This is an unusual, short, 4-part, very early-sounding (almost chant-like intervals) piece.
Orlando di Lasso (1532-1594) - Orlando di Lasso (aka Roland de Lassus &  Roland Delattre) a beautiful, upbeat 4 part (SATB) madrigal, from some sacred mass.
Orlando di Lasso (1532-1594) - Orlando di Lasso (aka Roland de Lassus &  Roland Delattre) an interesting 8-part madrigal (2 double SATB choirs).  Basically parts echo (echo) one another (one another) throughout.
Orlando di Lasso (1532-1594) - Orlando di Lasso (aka Roland de Lassus &  Roland Delattre). This is a cool, laid-back part-song or madrigal in four voices.
Heinrich Isaac (c. 1445 - 1517).  A single motif (the musical notes: A, E, A, G - solfeggio) played iteratively in four parts.  This is hard-core Early Music - strong, tight harmonic intervals (4ths/5ths) demanding counter-point, an intense piece overall.  I wished I'd played it a little better, and will probably go back and re-record it someday.
Samuel Scheidt (1587 - 1654) The German organist and composer Samuel Scheidt was born in Halle in 1587 and - like Purcell above - represents a link from the Renaissance to the Baroque period. This Allemande is short, tuneful and easy on the ears.
Samuel Scheidt (1587 - 1654) A short Courante dance, in standard triplet style. Really interesting chords in the second section.
Ludwig Senfl (c.1490-1555). A cute 5-part song, with repeating motifs throughout.
German Recordings - Recorded in 2009
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756 - 1791)  Okay, so this is not-so-early music, but a gorgeous transcription - originally for recorders (by David Goldstein) that Sue Iadone. I must admit to being biased, but I'd swear that Mozart would have been cool with this played on guitars.  

The Andante, Adagio and Allegro are pieces originally transcribed for recorders - and except for the missing sustain of a woodwind, really adapt nicely (my 'pinion)
Johann Sebastian Bach (1685 - 1750)  This famous Bourree is one of the first pieces beginning/intermediate classical guitarists learn. I've recorded it for my friend Graeme (of Consett/U.K.).  Graeme is actually the reason I started practicing and playing again after a 3 year hiatus - with constant eMails exhorting me to (and I'm paraphrasing here) "Get of my ___ and start playing your guitar again".  Okay Graeme - does this buy me another 3 years off? :-)
Johann Sebastian Bach (1685 - 1750)   Possibly my favorite Bach guitar pieces (in this transcription).  Still Wachtet Auf is an absolutely wonderful, tranquil, beautiful - in its own way, "romantic" work. Perhaps you can picture a young couple, walking hand-in-hand to the top of a grassy knoll, in late May - the sights, smells and sounds of spring overwhelm then.  And they see  eternity in each others' eyes. Bach's music captures all that - and much more.
Caspar Othmayr  (1515-1553).  Another Sue Iadone discover (Caspar Othmayr? Susan where do you dig these wonderful pieces up  and find these "not exactly household name composers"?). Anyway - I recorded a number of typical Renaissance dance-type tunes. They're all up-beat, and sound well, very Renaissance-y.
Michael Praetorious, (1571-1621) - So, although these are all Renaissance-y dances?  This composer (Michael Praetorious) really knows how to write. The inner lines are wonderful - and give his work depth and warmth, and without sacrificing the medieval bouncey "oompah" dance feel.  :-)

Oh, and for what it's worth? Sue Iadone is a big fan of "Lauftanz" (run dance). If you listen to it, you'll understand why (the name). In fact it's got some sweet lines - and fast-as-heck parts. I guess when  you play a composition named "run dance" you can expect to have to step on the gas pedal.

As to Hahnentanz (rooster dance)- this was kind of fun too.  A 5-part typical medieval dance number, but since it's Praetorious, it transcends dumpy "stomp" elevator-ride music, and becomes really lovely.
Heinrich Isaac (c. 1445 - 1517).  An amazing, fun, fast and short (the shortest tune of the new bunch, speeding in at just under 33 seconds) - this "textless song" is in the key of "F") - from, if you recall, "Do, Re, Mi, Fa..." - or for you Julie Andrews fans, "Do a deer". 
Heinrich Isaac (c. 1445 - 1517).  Another really short but awesome Isaac 4 part.   I had to look this one up.  This title is about virgins concieving.  I think it's a segment of the high Catholic mass, and quite a few notable composers wrote to it.
Heinrich Isaac (c. 1445 - 1517).  Translation - "Between mountain low valleys" - a spirited (I think keyboard???) work, I played on 4 guitar parts.  Very medieval sounding  - but quite beautiful in its simplicity and ambiance.
Heinrich Isaac (c. 1445 - 1517).  This HAS to be some sort of drinking song. Bawdy, and funny - and so Isaac.  I need an umlaut on my keyboard to spell the title correctly (the "o" should be umlated)
Heinrich Isaac (c. 1445 - 1517).  Translation - "Ah Venus's tie" .   Some title, eh? Actually, this is quite a fun, spirited little three-part instrumental. Sounding very Isaac - with great polyphony and wonderful strong lines.
Hans Leo Hassler (1564 -1612) the Kyrie movement, from this very beautiful mass, set to music by Hassler - who is close to baroque/Renaissance, in influence.
Hans Leo Hassler (1564 -1612) this amazingly beautiful selection from the Catholic mass actually renders nicely on guitar.  I haven't heard recordings of it, but I suspect I'm playing it a little faster than it would go if sung.
Orlando di Lasso (1532-1594) An amazing 4-part madrigal, with continuously changing meter (the tune goes in and out 4/4, 6/8, and odd rhythms).  Sounding like some sort medieval Dave Matthews Band tune.  Actually amazingly beautiful when sung.  There may be a Youtube choral video of this
Orlando di Lasso (1532-1594) A really interesting little German lieder (song) work Sue Iadone transcribed. Fast and furious with an obvious sense of humor.
Orlando di Lasso (1532-1594) This?  Is just glorious.  An amazing sacred 3-part madrigal from the Catholic mass on the subject of Jesus' resurrection.  Incredible lines. And a melody that reverentially paints the staff with a perfect musical portrait.
Johann Pachelbel (1653 - 1706) - some "not so early" music.  A wonderful short four-part fugue by the German composer famous for more than just his Canon.
Ludwig Sennfl (c.1490-1555).  An adorable 6-part choral work.  This piece is a "tone poem".  A musical work that's supposed sound like something specific.  Here, the chorus is supposed to emulate the sound of bell-ringers.  Guitar sounds okay at it too.
Georg Philipp Telemann (1681 - 1767) - This wonderful transcription of a Telemann Aria is from the Early Guitar.net - a terrific site that features transcriptions of renaissance and baroque music for guitar (solos and duets). There are dozens of excellent arrangements here - with midi file included for easy learning.

Ludwig Sennfl (c.1490-1555).  So, before packing my guitar away for 2010 I found five wonderful Sennfl works.  Each short, rhythmic, tuneful, and spirited. My favorite of the bunch is probably "Lust hab ich ghabt zur musica" - or roughly translated "I like music" - but they're all gems. 
German Recordings - Recorded in 2010
Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750) - (not really) Early Music, nevertheless - who doesn't love the music of Bach?

Jesu Joy of Man's Desiring - is a piece I played when I was in my 20's on solo guitar. This particular rendition was for four instruments (I think flute/violin,etc.). I added a 5th chordal guitar part (mixed way down)

Wachtet Auf - one of my all time favorites.  I recorded it last year, but wasn't satisfied with my results.  So - I re-recorded this year, and feel a little better about how it turned out. The score is from a 2-part piano arrangement.
I added a few tracks of guitar chords (waaay in the background).

**** Head's up. The MP3 files for Jesu and Wachtet Auf are kind'a large ****

Fugue in C Major - from the Well Tempered Klavier - sounds decent on guitar - 4 tracks (arranged for recorders)

Sometime in the 1970's I saw the movie "Fahrenheit 451"  - in which Glenn Gould plays this Largo from the Klavier Concerto.  I fell completely in love with the piece, and finally in 2010 found a version for 4 recorders.  I added a 5th guitar part playing chords (they called it "continuo" back in the day)

The Gavotte is a famous orchestral work that was arranged for SATB (choir).
Michael Praetorious (1571-1621) - late Renaissance (like Purcell, early Baroque period) composer. Very melodic and popular stuff.

Volte - a dance, arranged for 4 recorders (I added a 5th bass ostinato part). Goes at a pretty fast clip - must 'a been dancers that were IN SHAPE!

Bourree - very similar to the Praetorious Ballet - these two pieces sound so much alike, they probably were meant to be played together
Ludwig Senfl (1486-1542)- Last year I recorded quite a few Senfl pieces, and I didn't want to end up with a huge surplus of Senfl selections, but...

Ich weiss nit - I recorded about 8 years ago - and I did a terrible job. So, much like WachtetAuf (above) - I took the opportunity this year to re-record. 

Carmen Lamentacion - is a stately 4-part choral work.

Carmen in Re - is a short (one page - of course ALL these pieces are short) - jaunty and fun to play.  It kind'a ends abruptly...........

Jetz schayden is a wonderful upbeat 4-part song. Check out the wonderful call & response interplay at 1:00

Kann sach mir nye auf erden - is a more introspective somber choral work, with beautiful haunting lines.

Adam von Fulda (1445-1505)  - Almost completely unknown German composer, this outstanding selection from Sue Iadone's catalog makes you want to research and find more.  The actual melody is line 3 (similar to Ich Weiss Nit) Fantastic piece. 
Heinrich Schutz (1585-1672) - Late Renaissance/Early Baroque composer - this is the intro from one of his most famour works. 5-parts. Glorious.
Anonymous (Forster Liederbuch) - a totally fun, quick, rhythmic short dance.
Johann Schein (1586-1630) - cute fast little tune (nothing serious)
German Recordings - Recorded in 2011
Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750) - This year I indulged myself in playing a few solo guitar works (most of them multi-tracked) - including:

Prelude from Prelude, Fugue and Allegro- a grand sweeping intro to this very famous and often-performed trio of lute pieces.  The Allegro - is a phenomonal piece and the hardest tune (technically) on my site.  I've wanted to play it for a very long time (like ~40 years), and while it's a stretch for me technically, it's the closest I've ever come to the feeling of flying - musically.

The Allegro is dedicated to my ex-student Jeff Pitchell.  Jeff is the most accomplished musician I've had the great fortune to work with as a teacher.  Although in truth, his professional success is 99% his own talent and hard work. Jeff's gone on to international fame as a composer/singer/guitarist in blues/rock - and it's taken me until now to record something that's worthy of being dedicated to him.

Prelude and Allegro from the C major violin sonata - The C major sonata (BWV 1005) is one of my all-time favorite Bach solo works.  I've wanted to play/record movements from it for over 35 years, and finally found time this winter.  The Prelude is glorious and stately - incredibly emotional for the  Baroque period.  The Allegro is a wonderful, fast waltz.  It's at the top of my abilities - but is such a great piece that I just figured - why wait?  For what it's worth, this recording of the Allegro is not multi-tracked.

Georg Philipp Telemann (1681 - 1767) - another wonderful transcription by Telemann  from the Early Guitar.net - this Fantasie is a warm, slow - almost romantic piece - very nice little piece.
Glogauer Liederbuch - 1400s - There are a number of pieces from the Glogauer Liederbuch on this site, including some favorites like: Von Edler Art, Lass Mich Ein/Sie Lieber Geselle.  All of the pieces are extraordinary.  The four new ones this year are shorter - but no less delightful.
Johann Mattheson (1681 - 1764) - A contemporary of J.S. Bach (imagine his fortune in that!!!) this is a very sweet little 3-part recorder arrangement of a short dance.
Hans Leo Hassler (1564 -1612) - a wonderful 4-part choral work - Angels in Pastures contains call and echo, and a very nice ending.
Johannes Eccard (1553 - 1611)- a thoughtful choral work, with a powerful melody - and some very rapid-fire inner lines.
Ludwig Sennfl (c.1490-1555).  A first-class example of Sennfl's skill as a composer of instrumental part-music, bright and carefree musical thoughts.
German Recordings - Recorded in 2012
  • Bach's Goldberg Variations**
Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750)  - The Goldberg Variations

Like many musicians and music lovers, I first heard these magnificent pieces played by Glenn Gould on piano.  For me it was some time in 1968, and it was an intensely emotional experience, where - from the first variation on, you (the listener) are riveted to each recorded track - more often than not you just shake your head in disbelief wondering how he did this... or how anyone can do this... was it multi-tracked? etc.  His playing is just that brilliant.

My playing is a long way from brilliant, but, when you love a piece of music as much as I love these selections, and when you have them floating around in your head for 40+ years you can - I hope you agree - at least capture the spirit of Bach's music.  And - as in all these recordings on this site - classical guitar brings a warm intimacy that the piano (and harpsichord ... Bach's original keyboard) can't achieve.

For those of you who are Glenn Gould/Goldberg lovers, these renditions will seem very different.  Not nearly as fast - and I've had to mess with the octave nomenclature (playing certain notes up/down an octave) in order to fit the parts to the classical guitar.  But they're still amazing pieces - and one of the most interesting insights I got, multi-tracking each part is, just how beautiful the individual lines are.  Something that can get lost in complex-difficulty of solo playing.  Unless of course, you're Glenn Gould  :-)

For those of you who don't know the Goldbergs, there's a theme that book-ends these variations, and several variations I haven't yet recorded (kind of apparent by the sequential numbering).  

I'm not sure if I'll be recording any more of these pieces.  It's possible - but they're very difficult (both time-consuming and at the top of - or beyond my technical abilities).  

They are however, absolutely sublime compositions.  Individual lines are simply stunning - and so - if I ever get the time to practice ( A LOT) - I might take a run at a few of the others.
 
German Recordings - Recorded in 2013
Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750)  Arias from the St. Matthew Passion

The St. Matthew Passion is one of the most profound and wonderful musical oratorios ever conceived.  The work is performed annually at Easter world-wide - and is just as vibrant, luminous and emotionally stunning - today as it was when it written - if not more so.

I'm performing a number of the arias originally scored for voice and small orchestra.  I'll leave it up to you as to whether my translations to guitar make the grade.  But before you make up your mind check out "Buss und reu" - originally for transverse flutes continuo and counter-tenor.

For what it's worth, "Mache dich mein herze rein" - is possibly the most beautiful work I've ever heard.

In this section I've also recorded a wonderful Bach prelude (BWV 997).  I was inspired by listening to Matthew Sear's fantastic youtube recording: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5xxnHGbygo8

Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750)  Various Preludes and fugues from the Well Tempered Clavier

I started playing piano when I was young - and have always loved the Well Tempered Clavier.  It's a set of 48 incredible piano pieces that celebrated "well tempered" tuning - meaning that each 1/2 step in the chromatic scale was equidistant from every other 1/2 step.  Prior to well tempered tuning instruments were "mean temper" tuned - such that each key (and chord) was tuned to sound great - meaning that major 3rds and 6ths were "softened" (a euphemism for "made a little flat") so that the triads and chords sounded wonderful ... in that particular key.  When a composer modulated to a new key within a piece those same "soft" intervals now sounded hideous.  A conundrum for composers until well tempered tuning ironed out the bias.

Don't let all of the above techno-musical prattling mislead - Bach provided some of the world's most wonderful tunes in the Well Tempered Clavier.  In case you have any doubt whatsoever about that have a quick listen to the B Minor prelude.  Absolutely stunning.

You'll probably recognize at least a couple of these - as they're played by almost all fledgling pianists.  They sound really cool on classical guitar though.  Not that I'm biased  - heck no  :-)

Finally - no little description of the Well Tempered Clavier can be considered complete without an attribution to Wand Landowska - who almost single-handedly resurrected the Well Tempered Clavier with some historic recordings of them on harpsichord.



Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750)  - Assorted short pieces

You've probably heard the Prelude to the G Major Cello Sonata - and Sheep May Safely Graze, but the others may/may not be a little more obscure
  • The D Major "little piece for piano" - is a terrific quick and sweet prelude - with excellent, tight lines... it's hard to get the tune out of your head.
  • The two Bourrees from the A Minor piano partita are also great on guitar.  You may have heard Bourree II - it's been transcribed for a number of different instruments - and I think band & orchestra.
  • The E Minor Bourree was made famous by Jethro Tull - back in the early 70's.  I did a recording of it - oh - 5 or so years back, but it was kind of rough - so, I re-did it.
  • The Prelude to Bb Partita is both majestic/soaring and intimate/lovely - with just amazing lines - one of my favorite Bach piano works.
  • Sheep May Safely Graze is very popular.  It's played commonly by orchestras, bands, on piano etc. But what's kind of amazing is how absolutely great it sounds on guitar.  About 40+ years ago Chris Parkenning recorded this - and I've loved it ever since.  Thank you for having a listen.
Johannes Brahms (1833 - 1897) - Two of the Liebeslieder Waltzes

These wonderful choral works are absolutely charming.  The Liebeslieder Waltzes are staples of the choral literature - performed by college chamber choirs, professional quartets (check out a few recordings on Youtube) and occasionally even some high school choruses.

I didn't know how they'd render on guitar - and you can decide for yourself.  
  • Prelude VI (6) is light, bouncy, airy and just kind of adorable.
  • Prelude IX (9) is more intimate and romantic

These are my first works by Brahms - who for long periods in my life occupied "favorite composer" status.  If you've not ever listened his symponies (esp. Brahms Symphony #1) you might tackle it sometime.  It's a paramount work of classical music.  There are numerous Youtube videos of it - although to do it justice, this monumental has be heard through a quality set of speakers.

Robert Schumann (1810 - 1856) - a piece from the piano work Carnaval op.9

Schumann's Carnaval is one of the great works of the solo piano reportoire.  Because m- ost of the work ranges (tonally) way below and above the tonal possibilities of classical guitar.  However Eusebius works.  And it's really beautiful, no?

Italy

 

Claudio Monteverdi (1567 - 1643).  Scherzi musicali (1607).  O Rosetta che Rosetta is a part-song "O Rosetta" from the collection of tunes Monteverdi wrote.  This selection would be considered late-Renaissance, even early Baroque, but has always been a favorite of mine. 
Giuseppe Pitoni (1657 - 1745).  A 4-part choral transcription of a gorgeous, traditional madrigal.  Which - like "The Silver Swan" you might have sung in chorus or heard in high school or college.
Anonymous - a 3-part light and rhythmically-interesting selection. 
Domenico Ferrabosoco (1513 - 1574) - a light and bouncy 4-part motet.  Really nice lines, crisp and moving towards Baroque in style.
Josquin Des Pres (1450 - 1521) - from his "Italian Period":  Probably the most important composer before the second half of the 16th century, Josquin is especially noted for the expressive nature of his music, a trait that broke with the medieval tradition of more abstract music.  His artistic abilities were compared to those of Michelangelo, and Martin Luther is quoted: "Josquin is master of the notes, which must express what he desires; other choral composers must do what the notes dictate."  Josquin was born in Italy, but moved to France mid-way through his life. 

from: http://w3.rz-berlin.mpg.de/cmp/josquin.html

El Grillo imitates the sound of a cricket.  It is a "frottola" - a light-hearted secular work in four parts.

Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina (~1525-1594) - Palestrina ranks with Orlando di Lasso and William Byrd as one of the greatest Renaissance composer. A prolific writer of masses, motets and  madrigals he assimilated and refined polyphonic writing (as you will hear in this beautiful 4-part motet) to produce blended voices in search of the inspirational.

Anonymous (14th century), This amazing monophonic dance (arranged and published by Joe Iadone) is one of my all-time favorites, with terrific melodic licks divided by free-form instrumental breaks (cadenzas) 
Dedicated to my friend Graeme Irwin.  Thanks Graeme, for all the years of eMails, jokes, politcal-discussion, frank debate, music sharing and teaching me Geordie! May you find many wonderful new Aussie red wines to uncork in the future.
Italian Recordings - Recorded in 2009

Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina (~1525-1594) - a truly beautiful 4-part madrigal that I heard on YouTube sung by a number of wonderful choirs.  

Vincenzo Ruffo (~1510 - 1587) - a wonderfully wicked fast and muscular three-piece ensemble work with every syncopation I think I've ever played.  This is a classic - and goes to my note-worthy Renaissance tunes list. 

Antonio Vivaldi (1678 - 1741) - this wonderful transription is from the Early Guitar.net - a terrific site that features transcriptions of renaissance and baroque music for guitar (solos and duets). There are dozens of excellent arrangements here - with midi file included for easy learning.
Anonymous - A  3-part transctription by Sue Iadone of a very cool, medieval lute piece that has (in her words) "Honking Dissonances"  :-)   I'm hoping Sue will help fill write more here, because when I GOOGLED the tune nothing came up, and yet it's really a fantastic piece (dissonances or no).  But do keep Sue's words in mind, as you listen - these kinds of tone clusters didn't appear in music for another ~500 years after this anonymous composer. 
Italian Recordings - Recorded in 2010
Francesco Milano (1497-1543) - This is a terrific 3-part instrumental work, that really sings - and um, swings (sorry).  But it's light, fun and has some terrific melodic hooks starting at :38. Enjoy.
Antonio Vivaldi (1678-1741) - One of the most famous baroque composers, especially of concertos. He's said to have written 600 of them - but according to Joe Iadone, he wrote one concerto 600 times :-)  
This is a beautiful Largo from Sue Iadone's collection. 
Anonymous - I'm not sure where this work goes (country/region-wise), but it's wonderful. Substantial and perfectly constructed, with a bass line to die for. From Sue Iadone's collection. 
Alexander Agricola (1445-1506) - a very wonderful light piece by this normally profound and complex composer  With a wonderful melodic hook near the end. 
Gioseffo Guani - a nice light work - by a relatively obscure composer. that kicks into high-gear near the end.
The arrangement came from Alain Naigeon's fine site of free PDFs.  From this landing page - select the link at the top for Scores
Giovanni Palestrina (1525-1594) - one of the most famous composers of the Renaissance - or any musical era.

Adoramus - a beautiful (sacred) choral work

Ricercari - a terrific 4 part instrumental work, with Palestrina's trademark melodic style (see :38)

Vespers - a dark and brooding 4 part choral work; eerily beautiful. See especially the middle to end sections with gorgeous harmonies.

Italian Recordings - Recorded in 2011
Alessandro Scarlatti (1660 - 1725) - Scarlatti wrote a large number of superb piano works - including dozens of famous (frequently performed) sonatas.  

These two have been transcribed for classical guitar - and I'd always wanted to play them.   They're just wonderful - and I'm playing them directly from the piano music.

Antonio Vivaldi (1678-1741) - In the early 1970s Sesame Street (yes - the television show bear with me ;-)   came out.  And one of the very first musical videos they created featured this Largo from one of Vivaldi's (over) 600 concerti.  

You've probably heard this piece before - but you don't really get tired of a classic like this wonderful movement.

Giovanni Palestrina (1525-1594) - "I vaghi" is a beautiful and nuanced 4-part choral work.

And Agnus Dei is a wonderful movement from the Catholic mass.

Luca Marenzio (1553 - 1599) - a tuneful and very interesting 4-part madrigal - typical of the late Renaissance Italian choral style; lots of changes in mood and texture.  Fast too - but the choral tempi are not far from this (I'd rather play it  :-)
Italian Recordings - Recorded in 2013
Alessandro Scarlatti (1660 - 1725) - Scarlatti wrote a large number of superb piano works - including dozens of famous (frequently performed) sonatas.  

Like the above Scarlattis, these are two really wonderful pieces.  Many solo classical guitarists tackle these.  I'm reading the C Major Sonata from the original piano score .  The E Minor Sonata  recording is from a  transcription for solo guitar.  

Thanks to...

Most of all, thanks to Maryellen Sayles - my wife, the love of my life and bride of 33++ years.  This is for you honey.  I hope all the time I've spent practicing, recording, publishing, etc. (time not spent in your lovely company) is somehow worth it.

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Recommended Links & Sites - offering Early and Renaissance music, and/or classical guitar resources


Additional Sites - Linked here with appreciation for promoting the Early Music message

I have been grateful to receive links to this site from a number of friends of Renaissance and Early Music, including:

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Credits:


A little more Bach...

To Bob - my best friend of (going on) 55 years

Chorales:

J.S. Bach Instrumental works (warning these are kind of big files - note especially if you're using dial-up):

Partita # in Bb (arranged from keyboard)

English Suite No. 6 in D Minor - Two Gavottes (arranged from keyboard)

Another Gavotte - in A Major (you might have heard this one before) - This recording is dedicated to Stacy - and her dad,
Graeme.  Good luck at school next year, you've done your family proud, kid-do.

A Hayden Menuet!

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Something Different... A long, long time ago (during the 1970's while I was in college) I bought a wonderful recording named: "Music of the Ozarks" (released National Geographic).  It featured live performances by amateur musicians from rural Appalachia.  

There were some  gorgeous numbers on that recording, and I especially liked one haunting tune named :"Bright Morning Stars Are Rising". 
Unfortunately, the album is no longer available, and while several artists have recorded Bright Morning Stars, I wanted to give it my spin on guitar.  

Play Bright Morning Stars Are Rising... Solo guitar.  Note... here are the words - you can probably sing them in your head as you listen to the melody line....

Bright morning stars are rising
Bright morning stars are rising
Bright morning stars are rising
Day is a-breaking in my soul

Oh, where are our dear mothers?
Oh, where are our dear mothers?
Oh, where are our dear mothers?
Day is a-breaking in my soul

They are down in the valley praying
They are down in the valley praying
They are down in the valley praying
Day is a-breaking in my soul

Oh where are our dear fathers?
Oh where are our dear fathers?
Oh where are our dear fathers?
Day is a-breaking in my soul

They have gone to heaven shouting
They have gone to heaven shouting
They have gone to heaven shouting
Day is a-breaking in my soul

Bright morning stars are rising
Bright morning stars are rising
Bright morning stars are rising
Day is a-breaking in my soul
 

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