This disc invites us constantly to reassess and realign our expectations. The Romanesca antica of Tone II is good example of how ‘clinical’ openings can flourish into melodic then ornamental riches. Similarly, the Passamezzo antico Book 1 No 10 delights in lovely dialogues across registers. The tempi may be prevailingly moderate, but these are justified by the assertion in the Dialogo that ‘the lute and the viola d’arco’ are particularly suited to expressing the grave and serious, ‘like the Dorian mode’. The saltarellos provide lightness—although they are not without their intricacies and rhythmic complexities; Book 1 No 3 indulges in fantasia-like episodes towards the final cadence.
There are obviously considerable technical challenges of which Ozmo’s meticulous execution seems to make light. For example, he describes the need to keep the index finger of left hand flat on the fingerboard almost continuously while other fingers dance intricately, which requires great strength and agility.
In his engaging liner-notes Ozmo writes of his revelation when discovering the lute in his late teenage years and of his subsequent realisation, and wonder, that art and science can provide consolation and enrichment during times of personal and national adversity: ‘After all, if human beings are capable of creating beauty as reflected in the arts and mathematics, there must still be hope for us all even in the midst of the most terrible darkness’. Wise words, which we might do well to note.
This recording reveals both the science behind the scale; and the human expression behind the experiment.