HOPKINSON SMITH

Hopkinson Smith has been called the most moving of present day lutenists...he approaches the lute's universe with a musicality which goes far beyond the seemingly limited voice of his instrument. We invite you to explore on this website the magic of his lute and its music.

UN LLAÜT EN LA COLÒNIA

Sigue la Semana de Música antigua de la Colònia de Sant Pere y lo hace con algunos artistas de Lujo, tal es el caso de uno de los grandes de la interpretación de la música a partir de conceptos historicistas, buscando el sonido real de cuando la partitura fue creada. Nos referimos a Hopkinson Smith, uno de los mejores intérpretes actuales de laúd.

De hecho fue considerado por el San Francisco Chronicle como “sin duda, el más refinado intérprete de laúd del mundo”.

Nacido en Nueva York pero de ascendencia suiza, Smith se inició en los estudios de su instrumento en Harvard aunque después pasó a Europa para seguir con el catalán Emilio Pujol a través del cual estableció vínculos musicales con Catalunya, siendo uno de los fundadores del conjunto Hespèrion XX, de Jordi Savall, con quien ha trabajado en muchas ocasiones.

Sus grabaciones en solitario han sido repetidamente premiadas, en especial las que contienen música barroca y del Renacimiento.

En el programa que ofreció el pasado martes, Hopkinson Smith interpretó un programa titulado In Modo Anticoncepciones Novo, formado por partituras de los siglos XVI y XVII de John Dowland, Anthony Holborne y John Johnson así como la Suite in Modo Antico de Manuel Ponce (1882-1948).

Toda la sesión fue realmente excepcional, de principio a fin. El artista sacó del laúd un sonido envolvente, cosa muy difícil de conseguir si pensamos que ese instrumento no destaca precisamente por la sonoridad. Técnica muy refinada, musicalidad exquisita y una limpieza en la digitación realmente envidiable. Smith demostró, una vez más, que es uno de los grandes. O menor aún, que es el más grande. 

By Pere Estelrich i Massutí (Diario de Mallorca)

Noblesse und Tiefe

Als Experte für die Musik der englischen Renaissance ist “Lautenmeister” Hopkinson Smith den styriarte-Gästen längst ein Begriff. Bei seinem Konzert im Grazer Minoritensaal überzeugte der US-Amerikaner einmal mehr mit Stücken von John Dowland bis Anthony Holborne, sorgte aber auch für Überraschungen.

Wenn Hopkinson Smith die Renaissancelaute packt, ist man auf einen entspannten Abend eingestellt: Pavanen, Galliards und Fancys aus der Zeit Queen Elisabeths wollen zart gezupft erklingen, und tatsächlich ist die akkurate, nie auf äußere Effekte zielende Spielart Smiths ein Lehrstück in Sachen Klangintimität.

Hat das Ohr sich erst akklimatisiert, ist man freilich überrascht, welche emotionalen Abgründe sich hinter der Noblesse verstecken: In Dowlands “Forlorne Hope Fantasy” türmten sich etwa verschachtelte Dissonanzen, die auch ohne äußeres Tamtam durch das perfekte Saitenspiel des Virtuosen ihre Wirkung voll entfalten.

Zudem hat Smith dem Festivalmotto folgend einige schlaue “Verwandlungen” in sein Programm eingebaut, etwa ein Gondellied Felix Mendelssohns, das auf der Laute so wehmütig klingt, dass man fast denkt, es wäre ein echtes Renaissance-Original.

By F. Jureček (Kronen Zeitung, Graz)

Meditation mit Laute

Was Hopkinson Smith ausstrahlt, ist eine fast ausgestorbene Ästhetik. Ganz schlicht zaubert der amerikanisch-schweizerische Lautenist ein Programm, das von ihm wie von den Zuhörenden große innere Ruhe fordert. Schon sein Instrument, der Nachbau einer Renaissancelaute von Joel van Lennep, nötigt mit seinen zartesten Klängen das Publikum im Minoritensaal zu voller Aufmerksamkeit bei melancholischem John Dowland wie beim tänzerischen Anthony Holborne. Das styruarte-Motto fand sich in der Verwandlung verschiedener Stücke für die Laute, so etwa die barock anmutende Suite von Manuel Ponce. Auch wenn die Interpretation des 72-Jährigen keine Berge versetzt, ist doch vieles in seinem Spiel von erfreulicher Klarheit und zarter Begeisterung.

By Katharina Hogrefe (Kleine Zeitung, Graz)

San Diego Early Music Society Scores Again

But it is Smith's mastery of early lute music, his meticulous technique, elegant phrasing, emotional involvement and engaging writing (he wrote the program notes) that inspire this: "As we grow into a repertoire and ingest its language and freedoms, a process of entering the creativity of an époque gradually takes place." True for the artist--and certainly true for the audience.

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Mad Dog (Hopkinson Smith, Lute)

Puzzling title: genius or something else? Given Hopkinson Smith’s long track record for well-thought-out and expressively realized performances, he is on firm ground. Mad Dog is actually a galliard by Anthony Holborne. Presented here are a number so so-called orphan pieces, many unnamed or variants of the same piece, that appear in numerous English manuscripts during the reign o Queen Elizabeth. “Wards Repose” is a title given to a John Johnson piece to honor Smith’s influential musicology professor at Harvard, John Ward. Ward considered this unnamed pavan one of Johnson’s best.

The CD focuses on the works of John Johnson, Anthony Holborne, William Byrd, Gregorio Huwet, and, of course, John Dowland. Lute manuscript books of hat time included a diverse collection of composers and styles copied by many scribes. The layout here follows similar suit. The three opening Johnson pieces range from a light and airy galliard to a melancholy pavan/galliard’s reserved and pensive journey through unusual modulations. “Ward’s Repose” is a fitting tribute to John Ward and beautifully rendered.

The following Holborne works are lighter, dancelike, and the “Fantasy” is a wonderful realization of imitative counterpoint. “Pavan Bray,” a keyboard work by William Byrd, is presented from a reworked arrangement by Francis Cutting. Dowland’s cheerful tune “The Shoemaker’s Wife” is ironic considering the old English tale that the shoemaker’s wife was the worst shod of all. The Holborne pavan/galliard returns to a more somber note.

The “Fantasy” by Gregorio Huwet, included in A Varietie of Lute Lessons, may have been Dowland’s connection with “the most famous Gregorio Huwet of Antwerp,” along with a possible connection during their service to the Duke of Brunswick. The likely reworking is considered to be unmatched in eloquence and mastery. Smith follows tradition with creative restructuring of the form and a marvelous interpretation of the flowing counterpoint and imitative lines. It is a consummate performance.

Selections alternate between composers: Dowland’s “Midnight” is peaceful while Holborne’s “Mad Dog” has an energetic dance nature. While one is tempted to lump all Elizabethan lute tunes in three as galliards, Smith sees the Holborne pieces (“Fare Thee Well,” “Passion,” and “My Selfe”) as miniatures with a more lyrical focus. Johnson’s “Days End Pavan” is just the sort of tonic you need at the end of a stressful day: peaceful, melodic, and very relaxing. “Carmen’s Whistle,” a popular melody used by many composers, has a relaxed, dancelike feel. It also refers to the “whistle” that carmen (carters) used to manage their horses.

Hopkinson Smith’s list of awards, CDs, and performances represents a lifelong quest. Past interviews reveal a passion for finding the spirit of the music beyond the tablature. Immediacy, clarity, technique, and language of the day combine the physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual essence for interpretation. He focuses on the moment at hand; each performance is its own creation and never considered a definitive version. And so his creative search continues to explore and find meaning in a vast store of lute music. To that end he chose to use a lute tuned a step lower because of the gravity and melancholy nature of most of the works performed here. A great example is Holborne’s “Last Will and Testiment,” with a somber, stately character played to perfection.

This CD is a shining example of how recording techniques have continued to improve. Recorded at the Cloister Beinwil in Switzerland, where the recording engineer used a combination of mics, the highly regarded DPA 4003 known for its transparent, dynamic range and the Neumann M149 tube mic was chosen for added warmth. The Paradox Studio software used for editing and mix down is known as the preferred tool for reproducing classical and acoustic music. The clear, lifelike performance is captured and beautifully rendered.

Hopkinson Smith is an impressive man with and awe-inspiring body of work who continues to search for that “musical spirit” each time he picks up the lute. If this CD represents the state of lute performance and recording, let the madness continue!

by Frank DeGroodt, (LSA Quarterly, Summer & Fall, 2018)

Hopkinson Smith : Mad Dog

The American lutenist Hopkinson Smith was born in 1946. This beautiful album of lute works melancholy and spry was recorded in 2015 but released only now. A 70th-birthday present to himself, perhaps? Certainly the continued presence on this earth of an artist such as Smith, whose recordings over the years of the rich German, French, Italian, English and Spanish repertoire for guitar, vihuela and lute are surely one of the greatest musical ornaments of our own age, is worth celebrating.

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Mad Dog (Lautenwerke)

Wenn ein für das Lautenspiel und überhaupt für die Alte Musik so verdienter Musiker wie Hopkinson Smith seinen 70. Geburtstag feiert, sollte es eigentlich feuilletonistische Glückwunschtelegramme und Würdigungen hageln. Doch Ende 2016 blieb es zumindest im deutschsprachigen Raum erstaunlich still.

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Mad Dog. Hopkinson Smith, luit

Luitspeler Hopkinson Smith is op zijn zeventigste nog altijd een fenomeen. Niemand die de renaissanceluit zo fris, zo knapperig en tegelijk zo weemoedig kan laten ronken als hij. Op dit album struint hij door zijn lievelingsrepertoire, de Engelse renaissance, en plukt een geheel eigen ‘best of’ bij elkaar: een reis langs diepe melancholie op dansende voeten met muziek van John Johnson, Anthony Holborne en natuurlijk ook John Dowland.

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Hopkinson Smith, Beyond the Instrument

HOPKINSON SMITH ’70 describes J.S. Bach as a musical ecologist. “He recycled so many of his own works,” Smith explains. “He never stopped trying to adapt what he’d written.” It was an accepted musical practice at the time, but one imagines the composer was driven at least in part by pragmatism: his posts in a number of German cities required him to produce new compositions at a fierce pace. Refashioning musical materials helped him keep up with those demands. “Even so,” Smith adds, “writing a cantata a week would not have been a manageable task for the rest of us mortals.”

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Vater aller Lautenisten

Bonner Meisterkonzerte Klassische Gitarre: Hopkinsons Smith spielte im Kunstmuseum

Beim Stichwort „Renaissance-Laute“ fällt der Name „John Dowland“. Nur war der „English Orpheus“ einen guten Teil seines Berufslebens außerhalb Englands tätig. Am Hofe Elisabeth I. gaben andere den Ton an, John Johnson etwa und Anthony Holborne. 

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A Duo, a Trio, a Quartet, and a Lute Recital: Diversity Rules

Philadelphia, December 4th, 2015

[...] An elegant and genial figure on the platform and a master of his instrument, Smith not only achieved prodigies of prestidigitation in the faster pieces, but in the slower ones, his superfine delicacy of touch evoked just the kind of magic that so much of Shakespeare’s work shared with his contemporaries in that same golden age of English music, drama, and literature. 
The spell Smith cast over his listeners assured him of an enthusiastic ovation. This he rewarded with an additional piece by Anthony Holborne, aptly choosing that composer’s Fare thee well. [...] 

by Bernard Jacobson (Seen And Heard International)

ホプキンソン・スミス・インタビュー

●音楽的経歴――

――音楽はどのように始めましたか? 
ホプキンソン・スミス(以下H):子供 の頃は、ピアノのレッスンを受けてい ました。歌うことが大好きで、学校や 教会でもよく歌いました。私の父は建 築家でしたが、音楽が大好きで、家に は沢山のレコードがあり、良質な音楽 に囲まれて育ちました。そして中学校 に上がると、吹奏楽部に入りました。 トランペットやホルン、サクソフォン 等、足りないパートの楽器を任されま した(笑)。

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Les Disques de A à Z

Enregistré au monastère de Beinwil en juin 2015 par Laure Casenave-Péré. Une prise de son relativement proche pour une grande intimité avec le jeu du musicien. Le luth, tout en relief, semble évoluer sous nos oreilles avec tant de présence qu’on pourrait presque le toucher.

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