One of the world's foremost lutenists, Paul O'Dette is a leading authority on the music of John Dowland, the Elizabethan lute composer par excellence, and this album of favorites, freshly recorded for Harmonia Mundi, is a great introduction for newcomers. Many of the selections are popular and frequently recorded, such as the poignant Lachrimae (which Dowland based on his song, Flow, my tears), and his signature work, Semper Dowland, semper dolens. But O'Dette's album is less a greatest-hits compilation and more of a personal selection of pieces that have had special meaning to him. O'Dette has played Dowland over four decades, and he recorded the complete works for lute in the 1990s for Harmonia Mundi, so his relationship with the music has been long and fruitful. This CD is a reflection on the pieces he has most enjoyed playing and range from the melancholy plaints that were Dowland's stock in trade, to mirthful dances and insightful portraits. Some charming pieces to sample include My Lady Hunnsdon's Puffe (track 1), A Coye Joye (track 15), and The most sacred Queene Elizabeth, her Galliard (track 22), which show the brighter side of the famously gloomy Dowland.
AllMusic Review by Blair Sanderson