Teatro Lirico is the ECM leader debut of American lutenist Stephen Stubbs. The album features a diverse and multifaceted early music program connecting historically informed performance with improvisation. It offers a traditional early music instrumentation with four highly informed and accomplished early music interpreters: Milos Valent - violin, viola, Maxine Eilander - Spanish and Italian harps, Erin Headley - viola da gamba, lirone and Stephen Stubbs - baroque guitar, chitarrone. The immediately appealing sets of Italian "La Folia" variations, both virtuosic and grand, are interspersed with stylistically assured improvisations on the "Folia" bass line. Originating in Portugal and Spain and later known in France as "folies d'espagne," the "Folia" variations over characteristic chord patterns started as mere dance accompaniments and harmonic basis for song, but in the early 17th century developed into a musical form allowing the musicians, especially the guitarists, to display their virtuosity. In the recording process with ECM producer Manfred Eicher, the improvisational element came more to the fore not only in the typical baroque way of ornamenting and embellishing given melodies and chords, but as spontaneous and highly individual sets of new variations over the "Folia" bass line.
About the Artist
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia - Stephen Stubbs (born 1951) is a lutenist and director and has been a leading figure in the European early music scene for nearly thirty years. He was born in Seattle and studied harpsichord and composition at the University of Washington where, at the same time, he began to play the lute. He left America after graduation to study the instrument in England and Holland giving his debut concert in London's Wigmore Hall in 1976. Since 1981 Stubbs has been teaching at the Musikhochschule Bremen in Germany where he is currently holding a post as professor. He has performed extensively with his ensembles Tragicomedia and Teatro Lirico, and conducted baroque opera worldwide. He recorded numerous LPs and CDs with famous other Ensembles like Hilliard Ensemble or with Andrew Lawrence-King. Moving to Seattle in 2006, he has established a program there for young professional singers called Seattle Academy of Baroque Opera. He is artistic co-director of the Boston Early Music Festival.