The scarcity of contemporary compositions for lute is belied by the recent album Stathis Skandalidis Plays Gilbert Isbin (Tern 007). Happily, Isbin arranges 3 Old Flemish Songs and then furnishes Skandalidis with 20 brief new compositions.
Isbin straddles ancient and modern worlds in these lively pieces. They retain something of the intricacies and multi-part articulations of early music, but there is an inventive contemporary stance that clearly identifies the pieces as of the modern era.
Skandalidis hails from Greece and enjoys a busy schedule of concertizing on lute and guitar throughout Europe. Isbin himself is a Belgian lutenist and guitarist with more than 200 compositions for lute or guitar and ensemble to his credit. Of his numerous recordings this is the latest.
The combination of Skandalides' exceptional abilities and Isbin's old-in-new modernist creativity makes for a joy of a listen. Together they extend the lute's possibilities while giving us very idiomatic music that takes full advantage of the body of technical approaches from the tradition yet speaks to our contemporary sensibilities.
This is music that grows with every listen--sophisticated yet extraordinarily accessible and attractive in every way.