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Ralph Graves
WTJU, February 2020

Informative and entertaining

It’s a clever title. “Two Lutes with Grace” refers to Marc Lewon and Paul Kieffer (lutes), and Grace Newcombe (vocal). And it’s a valuable release. In the late 1400s, lute duos were one of the most common forms of professional ensembles. Lewen and Kieffer carefully reconstruct what these duos may have performed, using current musicological findings.

Lewon and Kieffer further vary the texture by occasionally matching a lute with a gittern. This smaller member of the lute family is also played with a plectrum. It has a slightly different timbre than the lute (as well as a higher range). The interplay between the two instruments is easy to hear, making the tracks stand out from the homogenous sound of the two lute selections.

Lewon and Kieffer play with precision and sensitivity. Although continually playing staccato, both connect lines through their phrasing. This keeps the music from devolving into an unending barrage of notes.

Newcombe sings in with a slightly dark mezzo-soprano. As is common with early music practices, she eschews vibrato. Her voice contrasts nicely with the accompanying lutes, delivering the melodies with exceptional beauty.

Highly recommended — especially for those only familiar with solo lute recordings. © 2020 WTJU Read complete review





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