WORKS: Elizabethan Lute Music
PERFORMER: Robin Thodey (lute)
CATALOGUE NO: CD 3 DDD
This collection celebrates an important aspect of the flowering of instrumental music in late-Tudor England, namely dance music for the lute composed in honour of members of the Elizabethan court by its chief exponents Dowland, Johnson, Holborne and the ubiquitous Anon. The ‘Most Sacred Queen Elizabeth’ herself, for example, is honoured with a galliard, her jester with a jig-like ‘risurrectione’, while other courtiers receive pavans and other dances.
Although displaying ample technical finesse, Robin Thodey’s playing sounds a little emotionally detached for what, with its harmonic suspensions and plangent melodies, is often deeply felt and melancholic music. Her untempered tuning, presumably deliberate, takes a little getting used to (the resultant clashes of upper partials in the lute’s tone seem to be especially prevalent), and the instrument itself inherently allows little tonal variety. This is, therefore, a collection to dip into.
The recording is close but not distractingly so and there is a pleasant enough ambience. The ample booklet note provides a useful history of the instrument and a musical and historical context for the various pieces. (Available at Harrods and Farringdon Records, and distributed by Brian Griffin on 0524 846446.) Matthew Rye