American Record Guide
, October 2000
"Since the craze for lute music in the late 15th and 16th centuries developed under the auspices of noble patronage in Venice, it seems appropriate that lutenists Christopher Wilson and Shirley Rumsey should focus their program on Venetian music. As Tim Crawford rightly points out in his notes to this recording, the true mark of the lutenist's skill lay in his mastery of improvisation. Since little is known of the composers who wrote the works on this release, the challenge for the lutenist is to reconstruct a Renaissance performance practice on the basis of performing treatises and the music itself.
Wilson and Rumsey convincingly evoke much of the affective style of playing that was the art of the Renaissance lutenist. The basis of this recording is collection of works by Joan Ambrosio Dalza (fl. 1508), Francesco Spinacino (fl. 1507), Franciscus Bossinensis (fl. 1510), Vincenzo Capirola (1474-c 1548), and anonymous composers. Many of these lutenists were active outside of Venice, but their works are preserved in the earliest collections produced by the great Venetian music publisher Ottavio Petrucci, and thus one suspects that their music was played at the Venetian courts.
Most of the compositions recorded here represent the popular Renaissance practice of performing courtly vocal music in purely instrumental form. We hear Spinacino's intabulation of Josquin's 'Bernardina' and two works that can trace their origin to the two famous Mantuan frottolists: Marchetto Cara's 'O mia cieca e dura sorte' and Bartolomeo Tromboncino's 'Pol che voles la mia stella'. The remainder of the recording is Renaissance dance music like Dalza's 'Pavana all Venetina and ' Saltarello & Piva'. The most affective and virtuosic performances on the recording are the ricercare. These were usually improvisations that preceded the performance of a "real" composition."