Following on from the enjoyment of making my last album of eccentric theorbo toccatas by Kapsberger (Toccata:Touched), I’m returning to the six-course Renaissance lute to embark on a recording of music by the somewhat under-appreciated Italian/French composer Jean Paul Paladin c.1500-1565.

See below for the donation ‘perks’, programme and album notes. The album will be recorded in York in October 2018. You can also find out more about me here.

Amount Raised: £2010 of £2000

Perks for supporters

£3 – Your name printed on the CD insert. [50 claimed / 50 available]

£5 – Digital download of ‘Mezangeau’s Experiements’ and the above. [50 claimed / 100 available]

£8 – Digital download of ‘Elizabeth’s Lutes’ and the above. [50 claimed / 100 available]

*£10 – Signed Paladin CD digipack (limited edition of 500) and the above. [50 claimed / 300 available]

*£20 – CDs of my previous albums ‘Mesangeau’s Experiments’ and ‘Elizabeth’s Lutes’ and the above.  [40 claimed / 100 available]

£25 – ‘Studio Master’ digital download of Paladin album and the above. [21 claimed / 50 available]

*£30 – Vinyl record of Fantasia Incantata by Ensemble Libro Primo. [16 claimed / 50 available]

£40 – One year’s subscription to my online lute tutor (normal cost £50 per year) and the above. [12 claimed / 10 available]

£75 – A lute lesson via Skype and the above. [4 claimed / 5 available]

£500 – A private 40 minute recital (excluding travel and accommodation) and the above. – UK only. [1 claimed / 2 available]

£1000 – To have the whole album dedicated to you or a friend on the first page of the insert and the above. – [0 claimed / 1 available]

*(UK postage included: for USA P&P add £4, for EU P&P add £2.50)


George Shishkovsky
Liz Fallon
Tim Farnhill
Tom Emlyn Williams
Rupert Waddington
Marta Luchi
Din Ghani
John Birks
Daniel O'Leary
Janet Bennett
Paul Brumpton
Joseph Mayes
Theodore Jordan
Chris Webb
Bill Stewart
Michael Bailey
Siobhan Armstrong
Elizabeth Robertson
Kenneth Young
Jack Sujovolsky
Melissa Scott
Pawel Swiczak
Luke Emmet
Matteo Turri
Jennifer Brophy
Carlos Borrachero
John Reeve
Gareth Rees
Matthew Ridgeon
Alain Verberkmoes
Hamish Hamilton
Emma Kirkby
Stephen Hampshire
Phil Lourie
Peter Jones
Peter Martin
Ray Black
Chris Bowen
Susan Sandman
Reinier de Valk
Alexander Carine
Daniel Heiman
Albert Reyerman
Bill Badley
Ibi Aziz
Stuart McLuckie
Anthony Barham
Sophie Yates
Pete Leigh
Peter Owen
David Krupka
Kate Hobson
Steven Wareing


To fund the project I need to raise a total of £2000. The funds go towards expenses such as church hire, the superb recording engineer and producer Joseph Chesshyre, mastering, and CD design and production.

The album will be released on my own label Veterum Musica. Why my own label? Having my own record label allows me artistic freedom over the works I choose to record and how I choose to record them. I often record music by lesser-known composers that a large record label would not consider to be a viable project. Regarding the recording process; you’ll notice that the albums we produce have a natural stereo sound, as though the listener were sitting with the musicians whilst the music is made. We also don’t add any artificial reverb or compression. When you purchase one of our albums you’re getting the real thing – the actual sound as it was recorded in the room.

AlexM (27 of 28)

Reviews from previous albums

‘McCartney’s interpretation of this reflective music is stylish and sublime.’
Kate Benessa, LSA

‘McCartney virtually shreds his accompaniments with fervent plucking and percussive strumming.’
Richard Brody, The New Yorker

‘Kapsberger has found a worthy and accomplished ambassador in Glasgow-based lutenist and luthier Alex McCartney… McCartney establishes his technical credentials with an impressive range of intricate flourishes… Equally noteworthy is the vivid sound capture achieved in Glasgow Cathedral […] total clarity is achieved and maintained… The prevailing mood is one of concise and upbeat exploration of musical ideas.’
Paul Fowles, UK Lute News

‘…McCartney interprets with elegance and sensitivity. [He] adapts well to the varying characters of the pieces. The quality of the sound must be atributed to McCartney’s excellent playing and recording skills.’
Fiona Thistle, LSA

‘This is sublime music, played with such feeling by Alex McCartney, a busy soloist and accompanist[.] We are fortunate to be able to listen to this re-discovered music performed with such care.’
Stephen Page, Lark Reviews

‘[McCartney’s] phrasing (an essential part of this ‘tricky’ French lute style) is admirably musical and the playing fluent and easily flowing.’
Martyn Hodgson, Lute News

‘The playing is sensitive and musical…’
Andrew Benson-Wilson Early Music Review

‘Using three suites Alex McCartney gives us a good impression of the refined art of the master.’
 (Translated from the German)

Programme, Jean Paul Paladin c.1500-1565

Fantasia 1, Livre de tablature de luth (1560)
Anchor che col partir (Cipriano de Rore), Livre de tablature de luth (1560)

Praeludium Nr. 165, Hortus Musicalis Novus (1615)*
Quand’io penso al martire (Jacques Arcadelt), Livre de tablature de luth (1560)
Fantasia on Quand’io penso al martire (Jacques Arcadelt?), Livre de tablature de luth (1560)
Fantasia on Alcun non puo sapere (?), Livre de tablature de luth (1560)

Praeludium Nr. 182, Hortus Musicalis Novus (1615)*
Fantasia 3, Livre de tablature de luth (1560)
Fantasia, Tabulature de lutz (1549)

Phantasia Nr. 3, Hortus Musicalis Novus (1615)*
Fantasia 4, Livre de tablature de luth (1560)

Praeludium Nr. 145, Hortus Musicalis Novus (1615)*
Fantasia 2, Livre de tablature de luth (1560)
Praeludium Nr. 24, Hortus Musicalis Novus (1615)*
Fantasia 6, senza canto (recorded ‘con canto’), Livre de tablature de luth (1560)

Praeludium Nr. 154, Hortus Musicalis Novus (1615)*
Fantasia 5, Livre de tablature de luth (1560)

*denotes Anonymous composer

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Previous Supporters

Siobhan Armstrong
Todor Nikolaev
Anonymous Donor
John Croall
Anonymous Donor
Anthony Hart
Toby Carr
Tom Emlyn Williams
Jean-Marie Poirier
Ibi Aziz
Din Ghani
Steven Wareing
Albert Edelman
Esther Brazil
Anthony Barton
Stephen Hogg
Chris Webb
Katie De La Matter
Davina Clarke
Melissa Scott
Anonymous Donor
Luke Emmet
David Lee
Daniel O’Leary
Adam Woolf
Eric Crouch
Pamela Hope
David Smith
David John Owen
Mark Savage
Arnie Brown
Sloan Schwindt
Laura Brownrigg
Matteo Turri
Cynthia Balme
Michael Peterson
Alan Hoyle
Inga M Klaucke
Angela Hicks
Geoffrey Irwin
Rosemary Galton
Max Mausen
Michael Bailey
Jonathan Barclay
David Krupka

AlexM (13 of 28)

Programme Notes

I came across the works of Jean Paul Paladin (c.1500-1565) completely by chance when browsing published lute sources online and seeing a name I did not recognise. I — like many others who pursue the revitalising of historical music — thought ‘brilliant’ and, within the space of one afternoon, found and played all of Paladin’s extant pieces. What I discovered was a remarkably competent and beautiful musical output. In particular the unfolding of Paladin’s fantasies under my fingers for the first time was a blossoming pleasure. It is unusual amongst lute composers in the 16th Century to find contrapuntal writing that does not in some way become waylaid by the idiosyncrasies dictated by the nature of the lute – an instrument that has to be simultaneously coaxed and gently tickled in order to make a coherent note sound — all before you even begin to try and impose any music on it. In his fantasies, Paladin is not put-off or distracted by technical or instrumental weaknesses and the result of his compositional-focus is a collection of convincing fantasies where the polyphonic voices are carefully considered and not fudged in order to make the music slightly easier for the player. It is perhaps worth noting that composing or arranging contrapuntal music in lute tabulature poses its own difficulties as, unlike conventional musical stave notation, tabulature gives no real indication of musical pitch — it only shows you where to place your fingers and what rhythm to pluck the strings with. In several of the pieces, in order to keep the polyphonic lines ‘pure’, Paladin writes music that ascends to the highest frets (consisting of wooden body-frets glued onto the soundboard of the lute): a technical action that rarely comes up in Renaissance lute repertoire as the high frets have a very different timbre to the rest of the frets on the neck and cannot be ‘tuned’ in the same way. Although this conscious composing demands more effort from any performer, the extra effort is paid back in full to the ear that experiences the perfect polyphony teased out in all directions.

This compositional approach of consistently ‘minding’ the polyphony is a noble aim Paladin shared with his contemporary Francesco Da Milano. The similarities don’t stop there; Jean-Paul Paladin was, in a previous life, known as Giovanni Paolo Paladino, a lutenist originally from Milan. Here I feel I must insert a disclaimer as all further connections between the two lutenist-composers are sketchy. However, I like to nurture and encourage the idea that they could well have known or met each other in the time before Milano moved to Rome c.1514 and Paladino moved to France c.1516 to work for the courts of Francois I (1516-22), Charles III of Lorraine (1544-), and Queen Mary of Scotland (1548-53). Nevertheless Francesco Da Milano was internationally famous and his compositions were well known throughout Europe; influencing a great number of lutenist-composers; and Paladin’s music shows him to clearly be no exception. Additionally, considering the Kings of France were also the Dukes of Milan between 1499-1526 (with a couple of intermissions), the distribution of music between France and Italy must have been comparatively easy.

It is also thought that, later in his life, Paladin was a wealthy merchant based in Lyon; purchasing a large house with a vineyard there in 1553 — which may account for why his three published books of tabulature were printed there in 1549, 1553, with the 1553 publication being re-printed in 1560.

Tabulature de lutz en diverses sortes (Lyon: Jacques Moderne
Premier livre de tablature de luth (Lyon: Giovan Pullon de Trino 1553) [LOST]
Premier livre de tabulature de luth (Lyon: Simon Gorlier 1560)

Paladin’s surviving published works comprise ten fantasias (including four imitation fantasias on madrigals and motets in the second book), nineteen intabulations of madrigals, motets, and chansons, five pavans, six galliards, and one ‘la bataille’.

Of all of these pieces, the fantasies stand out as remarkable original works (aside from a couple of the pavans and galliards) and hence the programme for this album has focused primarily on those pieces. A notable exception is the inclusion of Quand’io penso al martire by Jacques Arcadelt (1560), a popular choice of madrigal for intabulation at the time (there are at least 15 contemporary intabulations by various lute-composers). Paladin is a conservative copyist-intabulator, and with the exception of one mistake (which may have been the printer’s), he copies the madrigal with precision. What follows this piece in the publication is an exceptional imitation fantasia of Paladin’s own composition.
Interestingly that at this time, it seems Paladin already had a concept of the werktreue — an anachronistic concept not yet conceived in musical philosophy — in that, when intabulating madrigals etc., Paladin rarely made any changes or ‘enhancements’ to another composer’s work. This was not the standard practice at a time when ‘musicking’ was taken to be more of a welcoming communal craft than an untouchable romantic manifestation of subjective emotion. We can find examples in other intabulations of Quand’io penso al martire by Valtentin Bakfark (Odernum, 1553), Albert de Rippe (Le Roy & Ballard, 1553), and Sebastian Ochsenkun (Kholen, 1558).

What comes to mind when I play much of this music is the positively phrased question ‘What can you add?’ What Paladin added, he added after a literal intabulation, in the form of an imitation fantasie (as mentioned above); whereby he took an element of the original piece and elaborated playfully with it: creating beauty from beauty – a truly enchanting process that the performer is generously included in at the final stage.

In between the contrapuntal fantasias by Paladin, I have included a selection of anonymous phantasias and praeludiums from Hortus Musicalis Novus (1615), which is a large collection of pieces (235 preludes and 120 fantasies and fugues) assimilated by the lutenist Elias Mertel, c.1561-1626.

To Seigneur Jean Paul Paladin
Better than Orpheus of the golden lute
Better than Apollo upon his lyre,
Better than Arion could tell
Upon his lute so honoured
Better than all such famed
[List of various instruments]
I see yours: which can suffice
To return a dead man to life —
‘Tis worthy, in truth, to be adored.
— Guillaume de la Tayssoniere, 1551