Johann Hieronymus Kapsberger (c.1580-1651), a German of noble birth who was raised in Venice, was one of the earliest seventeenth-century composers who experimented with the new baroque style. He spent most of his career in Rome and became known as a virtuoso, if slightly eccentric, lutenist as well as a prolific and highly original composer. His music is not without its critics but Kapsberger’s role in the development of the lute (and its cousins the theorbo and chitarrone) as solo instruments is undisputed.
Canario (based on a popular dance imported to Italy from the Canary Islands) is one movement from his Libro quarto d’intavolatura di Chitarrone (1640). Straightforward in structure the piece is made up of repeated two bar phrases, each a variation on the theme over a ground bass, that give it an air of perpetual motion.
Kapsberger’s music is most engaging on on four bassoons.