Lady Maggie's Lilt: Music of the Lute Book of Lady Margaret Wemyss 1629-1648
Lady Margaret Wemyss was just 12 when she started to compile the lute book that perpetuates her name. Seven years later she died, but not before amassing an invaluable compendium preserving tunes from her native Scotland alongside English and French works. The book only resurfaced some quarter of a century ago and Martin Eastwell invokes the spirit of the ‘auld alliance’, weaving around the Celtic mists and tartan fruitfulness, music by the likes of François Dufault, René Mesangeau and Jacques Gaultier – the latter a colourful character accused of murder, espionage, and a dalliance with the wife of Charles I.
Martin Eastwell is a thoughtful, unfussy guide, and the intimacy of his playing is captured in a recording sound that leaves the listener feeling like a favoured eavesdropper. Improvised preludes and variations (as appropriate) are stitched in, and the contrast between courtly sophistication and the rawness of the folk tradition is telling. (How poignant the simple open textures and modal twists of ‘I left my tru love’.) With only two of the 45 tracks exceeding three minutes – and the shortest lasting only 19 seconds – it’s a disc best consumed like a single malt: savoured in sips rather than downed in one.