Ryosuke Sakamoto (Lute): Complete Francesco da Milano

Ryosuke Sakamoto has a fantastic project going on his YouTube where he’s playing through all of the Ricercares and Fantasias by Francesco Canova da Milano (1497–1543) in order of the Ness number. I included his intro video and the first Fantasia. You can see them all on his video page on Youtube. Francesco da Milano is one my favourite lute composers for his clear contrapuntal style and joy of motivic imitation. Sakamoto is essentially living my dream of playing them all but I think I’d have to stop working on the site if I tried this! Congrats to him on the excellent playing and video work as well. Go subscribe to his channel now!

Here’s his text from the intro video:

Francesco Canova da Milano (1497-1543) was undoubtedly the most renowned musician of the early 16th century. Having his origin in Monza, in the suburbs of Milan, Francesco traveled all over Italy and probably some parts of France, working at various places including the Papal court in Rome. Those who witnessed his marvellous and virtuosic lute performance, called and praised him as “il divino (the divine)”, just like one of his contemporaries, the artist Michelangelo.

Since Francesco was famous throughout Europe, there are plenty of prints and manuscripts containing his music, which have come down to us today. No other person in the history of lute music has ever attained such fame and influence during his lifetime, or even after his death.

Among Francesco’s surviving works, his ricercars and fantasias, as free-composed pieces, represent a true highlight of the instrumental practice of 16th century music, especially in how they shed light on advanced improvisational skills on the lute.

With this program Ryosuke Sakamoto, a modern lutenist, is taking on the challenge in 2021 of presenting all of the ricercars and fantasias by Francesco Canova da Milano, as a series of performance videos, uploaded twice weekly (Tuesday and Friday). The first video will appear on the 1st of January, and the last on the 31st of December.

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