Ars longa: Old and New Music for Theorbo | Linn CKD603

Ars longa: Old and New Music for Theorbo


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Label: Linn

Cat No: CKD603

Format: CD

Number of Discs: 1

Genre: Instrumental

Release Date: 21st June 2019



Elizabeth Kenny (theorbo)


Kapsberger, Johannes Hieronymous

Libro IV d'intavolatura di chitarrone
» Canario - Capona
» Passacaglia
» Toccata I

MacMillan, James

Since it was the day of preparation...
» Motet I

Muhly, Nico

Berceuse with 7 variations

Oliver, Benjamin

Extending from the inside

Piccinini, Alessandro

Intavolatura di Liuto et di Chitarrone, Book I
» Ciaconna
» Corrente
» Romanesca con partite variate
» Romanesca folia con variate
» Toccata III
» Toccata X
» Toccata XII

Visee, Robert de

Les Sylvains de M Couperin
Prelude in G major
Suite in C minor


Elizabeth Kenny (theorbo)


Ars longa see theorbo specialist Elizabeth Kenny perform a typically inventive recital of diverse repertoire spanning five centuries.

The theorbo’s eccentric appearance and tuning belies its expressive and delicate qualities; its versatility extends to beautiful melodies, experimental harmonies and a wonderfully resonant bass. The recital takes the listener from the early avant-garde repertoire for the instrument of Kapsperger and Piccinini to the new and imaginative sounds explored by today’s composers.

Taken from his 2011 work Since it was the day of Preparation … James MacMillan’s Motet is a haunting and melancholy piece in which the theorbo acts as an emblem of human fragility and sadness. Benjamin Oliver wrote Extending from the inside specifically for Kenny, who relishes the unique challenge of combining elements of funk guitar with Baroque tradition in this premiere recording. The second premiere recording is Nico Muhly’s Berceuse, also inspired by Kenny; it exploits the unconventional tuning system and expressive possibilities of the theorbo to powerful effect.

Elizabeth Kenny is one of Europe’s leading theorbo players, equally at home in solo, chamber music and the opera house. In twenty years of touring she has played with many of the world’s best period instrument groups including Les Arts Florissants and the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment. Her research interests have led to critically acclaimed recordings of Lawes, Purcell and Dowland, and to the formation of her ensemble Theatre of the Ayre.

Kenny’s recording collaborations have won the 2017 Gramophone Award and the 2017 Diapason d’or de l’année (Dowland: Lachrimae or Seven Tears with Phantasm) and a 2016 Grammy Award (Shakespeare Songs with Ian Bostridge).

“…a wonderful new piece by Benjamin Oliver, Extending from the inside, which sounded a little like King Crimson’s Robert Fripp guesting with the Young Marble Giants.” - The Herald

“The addition of Elizabeth Kenny’s theorbo was also a welcome one, softening the sonic edges ever so slightly and filling out the texture with elegant embellishment.” - The Arts Desk


The theorbo is these days most often glimpsed poking up from the continuo groups in orchestras for baroque opera, but Kenny reassures us that “it is also just another big guitar”. She frames the premieres with toccatas that sound like improvisations, hypnotic chaconnes that weave around repeated bass lines, and Robert de Visée’s lovely tribute to his fellow Frenchman, Les Sylvains de Mr Couperin.  Nicholas Kenyon
The Observer 2 June 2019

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