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Jacobean Lute Music
Compositions by Dowland, Johnson, Bacheler, Robinson, Hely, Gaultier and anonymous
Jakob Lindberg (lute)
See end of review for track-list
rec. no details supplied BIS BIS-SACD-2055 [81:12]
Back in the 1980s, Jakob Lindberg started recording lute albums with BIS Records CEO Robert von Bahr in what was, at the time, apparently a recording studio: von Bahr’s attic. Now, after forty years in charge, the label’s boss has upgraded: according to a promo email from eClassical announcing this disc, he has built a private concert hall into his new house. There’s something for me to aspire to.
Anyway: the inaugural recording from the new “von Bahr Studio” is a total winner, collecting lute music from John Dowland, five of his contemporaries, and that ever-popular master composer, Anonymous. Anonymous was especially good at naming their tunes: “Scottish Hunts Up,” and the best name on the album, “John Come Kiss Me Now”. Plus, the lute itself is an incredibly rare instrument from Dowland’s time, built around 1590, and thus predating almost every Shakespeare play. I wonder if Lindberg had anxieties about dropping it.
Lindberg’s such an expert lutenist we almost take him for granted, but after three decades of recording albums (some of them not in people’s attics), he is still a master of the instrument. The complete solo Dowland is under his belt, but that composer is used as a bookend here, starting and ending the recital.
There are numerous non-Dowland highlights. “Hence to Me, Molly Gray” sounds like it was originally a 1960s acoustic rock tune, because of a jamming bass line that propels the melody forward. The Fantasia by Robert Johnson begins in a fascinatingly contrapuntal, almost hypnotic, manner. “John Come Kiss Me Now” is just as fun as its title. One of Thomas Robinson’s gigues (track 5) is a delight which could be orchestrated successfully, though it’s not even a minute long.
If you have any interest in baroque lute music, you’ve probably already added this to your wish-list. If not, do it now. What more can you ask: the combination of Jakob Lindberg, 81 minutes of playing time and a rare 1590 instrument; not to mention the superbly atmospheric SACD sound — Robert von Bahr must have a very nice house.
If you have already purchased this disc, what can I say except that you have good taste.
Track-List John DOWLAND (1563-1626)
A Fancy Thomas ROBINSON (1560?-1610)
Walking in a Country Town
A Gigue Robert JOHNSON (1583?-1633)
A Scottish Dance
Draw Near to Me and Love Me
Hence to me Molly Gray
A Scottish Tune
Scottish Hunts Up Daniel BACHELER (1572-after 1610)
Mounsiers Almain Cuthbert HELY (?-1648?)
Saraband John Dowland
Battle Galliard Daniel Bacheler
La Jeune Fillette
Courante Jacques GAULTIER (?-1652?)
Courante Daniel Bacheler
John Come Kiss Me Now Robert Johnson
Fantasia Thomas Robinson
The Spanish Pavan
Row Well, you Mariners John Dowland
Sir John Langton’s Pavan