Luculentum Theatrum Musicum
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The Flemish Pierre Phalèse (c. 1510-c. 1575) was the first publisher to edit extensive anthologies of lute music with pieces by Italian and French lute composers.
The Luculentum, published in 1568, includes 163 compositions for lute, of which 8 are for two lutes. The music here selected represents all the musical genres of Renaissance lute composition: fantasies, dances and tablatures, arrangements for lute of famous vocal works.
The Fantasies (free polyphonic compositions created by the fancy of the lutenist/composer) closely compare two strong personalities, Francesco da Milano (1497-1543) and Jean-Paul Paladin (fl. 1540-1560), with their complex and elaborate polyphonic and contrapuntal writing. This group is completed by the fantasies of two very particular musicians: the Parisian Guillaume Morlaye (c. 1510-c. 1558), involved in the slave trade and the Milanian Pietro Paolo Borrono (c. 1494-post 1564), soldier and secret agent of Ferrante Gonzaga, sent to Rome to assassinate Cardinal Farnese, under the false pretext of printing music.
Although anonymous, the Dances reveal the great skill of lutenists in composing for the instrument, easy to the ear but challenging to the hands. The Padoana Romanisca and its Gailliarda have an amazing peculiarity for the time: they are unusual variations on a repeated harmonic base, a way of composing that will have enormous success in all subsequent centuries, right up to the present day.
The Tablatures of vocal works (mainly French chansons) are virtuosic elaborations by anonymous lute players that reach the limits of instrumental possibilities but nevertheless retain their cantabile and melancholic character.
The compositions of the Luculentum, therefore, offer us a snapshot of the lute world in Europe, while in the same years a new star was emerging and charming Rome, Lorenzino del Liuto.