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A collection of achingly expressive pieces from the last days of the lute; music that has never been recorded. Read more

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This project was successfully funded on November 20, 2012.

A collection of achingly expressive pieces from the last days of the lute; music that has never been recorded.

About this project

“Swan Song of the Lute”

Christopher Wilke, Solo Lute Album

In the second half of the 18th century, the lute was the ideal instrument for the then-new Empfindsamer (“expressive”) style. Founded on principles of deeply poetic emotional content and abrupt changes of character, it was an avant-garde movement embraced by a small cadre of elite artists that many listeners of the day found alien and shocking. As Dr. Charles Burney wrote in 1775, this was truly music “made for another region, or at least another century, when what is now thought difficult and far-fetched, will, perhaps, be familiar and natural.”

The 24-string lute, with its wide range, subtle gradations of volume, and ability to manipulate tone colors, was perfectly suited to this intensely personal style. “Swan Song of the Lute” will feature five sonatas written in the expressive manner. Included will be works by Durant, Kleinknecht, Hasse, Haydn, and a beautiful anonymous sonata from the Rosani Lautenbuch. These extremely difficult pieces were to be some of the last music ever composed for the lute before the much louder piano displaced it in the 19th century.

Because the style doesn’t fit easily into any musical category, relatively few performers on any kind of instrument have recorded this repertoire. Three of the 250-year old sonatas included in this project will receive their world debut recordings here.

In our ultra-fast-paced modern world of sound bites, rapid-fire camera editing, and instant news, the astonishing quality of this fascinating music no longer sounds, “difficult and far-fetched,” but rather, as Dr. Burney predicted, “familiar and natural.” Over half of the album has been completed. Your contribution will ensure that this ancient “modern” music will finally have its day.

About Christopher Wilke

 “A master of several instruments.”

-       The Cincinnati Enquirer

“Christopher Wilke thrilled the audience… Wilke’s nuanced, meditative and emotionally evocative presentation was met with rapturous applause, which contrasted markedly with the tranquility of the setting.”

-       The Allgäuer Zeitung (Germany)

“The sound Wilke produces from his instrument is absolutely gorgeous. Christopher Wilke plays with an expert feel for this style.”

-      American Record Guide

 Multi-instrumentalist/composer Christopher Wilke earned his doctorate in Early Music performance from the Eastman School of Music where he studied with the renowned lutenist Paul O’Dette. His credits include numerous published articles and original compositions. Wilke is known for his meticulous attention to period performance practice as well as embracing the musicological challenge of researching and performing unfairly neglected masterworks of forgotten composers. In 2007 he released his debut album with Centaur Records, featuring the first-ever recordings of the solo music of the 17th century French composer Charles Hurel, performed on a 14-string theorbo. His original compositions are published by Les Productions d’Oz in Montreal. He has held faculty positions at colleges in New York, Ohio, Kentucky and West Virginia. He enjoys spending time with his wife and two-year old twins.

Risks and challenges

Pending achievement of the funding goal, there is little risk involved in this project. This is a solo album, so, assuming I don't break an arm or the recording engineer doesn't fall in a well, it WILL be released in a concrete form.

When the project is funded, the completed album will follow one of two paths:
1) It will be submitted to major classical music labels for potential international distribution. This happened with my previous album. "Charles Hurel: The Theorbo Works," an independently recorded, self-funded project, is now signed to the Centaur label.
2) If distribution by a major label is unfeasible, the album will be released independently and will be available through online and online venue such as CD Baby and iTunes. I have experience with these options as well.

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    5 backers

    Digital copy of the new album.

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    14 backers

    Hard copy of the new CD.

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    4 backers

    Copy of the new CD plus three bonus digital tracks (exclusive release of this material).

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    3 backers

    Copy of the new CD and “Charles Hurel: Works for Theorbo” CD (released on Centaur Records in 2007).

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    Copy of the new CD, “Charles Hurel” CD, and three bonus digital tracks.

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    7 backers

    Copy of the new CD, “Charles Hurel” CD, three bonus digital tracks, and the sheet music to “Diatribe” and “Emperor Romulus Augustus, His Serious Funk” (original compositions for solo guitar, published by Les Productions d’Oz.)

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    Live private or public concert performance. Travel and lodging expenses to be provided by donor. (Continental US only.)

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    Live private or public concert performance. All inclusive: travel and lodging expenses to be provided by the performer. (Continental US only.)

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Funding period

- (40 days)