This selection of English lute music stands out from the common run by virtue of a couple of features. First is the unusual lute played by Swedish performer Jakob Lindberg: made around 1590, and dated with dendrochronology techniques, it is "probably the oldest lute in playing condition with its original soundboard." Its gut strings do not produce the sweetest lute sound you've ever heard, but the sound has both character and variety. The second distinctive feature is the closely focused repertory, narrowed down to the Jacobean era at the beginning of the 17th century. The lute fits the concentrated, polyphonic quality of this music very well, and the recital as a whole, with the mood lightened only by some anonymous Scottish tunes that were brought in by the new king and his retinue, is unusually intimate and dense. The focus brings in some unusual composers, such as Thomas Robinson, Daniel Bacheler, and Cuthbert Hely, all of whom were formidable lutenists from the sound of it. For lute music this is a demanding hour-and-a-third of listening (somehow the BIS engineering team squeezed 81 minutes and 12 seconds of music onto a single CD), and Lindberg's energy and precision do not flag. Auditioned on a conventional stereo the recording was too close to Lindberg and contained too much extraneous noise; mileage may vary with other equipment.
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AllMusic Review by James Manheim