Sunday, 12 July 2015

Dowland - Complete Lute Music - North

Rating: 5/5

A fantastic set

This is an absolutely fantastic set. Dowland's lute music itself is wonderful - often melancholy, sometimes more sprightly and dancing but always fresh and often innovative for its time and packed with melody and harmonic invention. It constitutes one of the glories of the Elizabethan and Jacobean ages and, four centuries on, thoroughly deserves to be alive and well. In the hands of Nigel North it is both.

North is one of the world's greatest lutenists. He has been making recordings of the highest quality for many years now and this series for Naxos is among his best. He has the depth of technique to make Dowland's sometimes very difficult pieces sound as easy and as natural as breathing. He also has a wonderful understanding of the music itself, investing it with exactly the right degree of emotion so that it never sounds stodgy or miserable - just poignantly melancholy where it should and engagingly charming in other places. The fabulously beautiful tone which North coaxes from his lute is perfectly caught by the excellent recording, and the notes and presentation are very decent.

I cannot commend this set highly enough. I was raised on Jakob Lindberg's recordings which I still love, but I have come round to preferring Nigel North's recordings. At this price they are a wonderful bargain, too. Don't hesitate: this is a set to give pleasure for many years so snap it up.

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