Hopkinson Smith To Perform in 15th Century Fabbri Mansion in NYC on November 7
Legendary lutenist Hopkinson Smith, will perform Dowland's Europe: The Winds of Change. Celebrating the 450th anniversary of his birth, the performance will take place on Thursday, 7 November 2013 at the Renaissance Library of the Fabbri Mansion located on 7 East 95th Street. The Library, built during the Renaissance as part of the Ducal Palace of Urbino in Italy, was brought to New York during WWI.
Born in New York in 1946, Hopkinson Smith graduated from Harvard with Honors in Music in 1972. The next year he came to Europe to study with Emilio Pujol in Catalonia and Eugen Dombois in Switzerland. He then became involved in numerous chamber music projects including the founding of the ensemble Hespèrion XX. Since the mid-80's, he has focused almost exclusively on the solo repertoires for early plucked instruments producing a series of prize-winning recordings for Astrée. These feature Spanish music for vihuela and baroque guitar, French lute music of the Renaissance and baroque, early 17th century Italian music and the German high baroque.
The recording of his lute arrangements of the Bach solo violin Sonatas and Partitas, released in the year 2000, has been universally acclaimed by the press. Gramophone magazine called it "the best recording of these works on any instrument". A Dowland recording, out since early 2005, won a Diapason d'Or and was called 'wonderfully personal' in a review in the New York Times. A recording with music from the world of Francesco da Milano, was awarded a Diapason d'Or de l'Année (the French equivalent of a Grammy award) in November 2009 and has been called "the first recording to do justice to Francesco's reputation." A CD with the first three Bach 'cello Suites played on the German Theorbo was released in early 2013 and has also won a Diapason d'Or.
Mr. Smith has performed and given master classes throughout eastern and western Europe, North and South America, Australia, Korea and Japan sometimes combining the life-style of a hermit with that of a gypsy. In 2007 and 2009, he gave concerts and workshops in Palestine under the auspices of the Barenboim-Said Foundation and the Swiss Arts Council. In 2010, he received the music prize from the Italian Region of Puglia with the inscription "maestro dei maestri, massimo interprete delle musiche per liuto dell'antica Europa Mediterranea". He teaches at the Schola Cantorum Basiliensis.
The beginning of the baroque era was a period of extraordinary creativity in the music of different parts of Europe. A new emphasis on the natural rhythms of language brought profound changes to vocal and instrumental repertoires alike. The year 1611 saw the publication in Paris and Rome of books of lute music that already clearly showed these new directions in France and Italy: Robert Ballard's Premier Livre and the Libro Primo d'Intavolatura di Lauto by Giovanni Girolamo Kapsperger.
At the center of Ballard's repertoire are his Courantes. With rhythmic grace and melodic freedom, they show the beginning of the French 'style brisé' through suggestive polyphony where different voices move alternately and create a transparent filigree texture of great elegance. Prelude-like 'Entrées' and folk-inspired Branles will round out the picture of his oeuvre.
In sharp contrast to this we have the style of Kapsperger, who was of noble German origin but born in Venice and a central figure of Roman musical life. He wrote highly expressive Toccatas with wide swings of mood-sometimes violent, sometimes intimately touching-and always fascinating. These will be complemented by dance movements with virtuoso diminutions. The essence of Italian exaggeration, flamboyance and the broadest range of color mark his style.