On 12 June 2020, Supraphon will release the album featuring pieces from a fragment of the Codex Jacobides, one of the major Czech sources of lute and instrumental music performed in Prague c. 1600. The internationally acclaimed lutenist Jan Čižmář made the album with the Bohemian Lute Orchestra, the singer Eliška Tesařová and the viola da gamba player Magda Uhlířová. The album will be released on CD and in electronic formats.
Jan Čižmář studied the lute in London and The Hague with true masters (Jacob Lindberg, Nigel North, Joachim Held, hMike Fentross and Christina Pluhar), and today he is a sought-after soloist and chamber musician, performing worldwide. On his new album, based on a manuscript of lute tablatures known as the Codex Jacobides, eight string instruments of various sizes and tunings are heard in a number of combinations, occasionally accompanied by a flute or lute ensemble and voice. Affording a taste of the music performed in Prague under Emperor Rudolf II, the CD is a true delicacy for connoisseurs and all music lovers alike. The listener may know some of the compositions from Spirituál kvintet’s legendary record Songs from the Good Auld Days or from the Czech film A Night at Karlstein.
The lute, undoubtedly the most popular instrument among European townsfolk and aristocrats in the 16th and 17th centuries, was widely played in Prague during the reign of Emperor Rudolf II. A manuscript of lute tablatures known as the Codex Jacobides was in all likelihood written by a musically gifted student of the Prague University in the early 17th century. It contains notations of period dances, intabulations of songs and vocal polyphonic pieces, miniatures of German, English, French, Italian and Polish provenience. Extremely intriguing are the intabulations of vocal villanelle by Jacob Regnart, who served as Kapellmeister at Rudolf II’s court in Prague. Originally set to German texts, these pieces had found their way from Prague Castle to the city beneath, where – furnished with Czech lyrics – they lived a life of their own. The Codex Jacobides also includes works by Michael Praetorius, John Dowland and Jean Planson.