Tuesday, 6 March 2018

Toys For Two - From Dowland To California

Rating: 4/5

Very enjoyable

I like this disc.  I was almost put off by the name of the duo, but I'm glad I wasn't because it's an enjoyable and imaginative collection.

These are pieces arranged for lute and triple harp, largely by English composers of the 16th and 17th centuries.  There's good stuff here from Dowland, Byrd, Holborne, Locke and others, which sounds very good in these arrangements and is well played.  What lends the programme a bit of spice, however, is the inclusion of five transcriptions of tracks by – wait for it – Led Zeppelin: Bron-Y-Aur, Bron-Y-Aur Stomp, Black Mountain Side, Tangerine and Going To California, all very familiar to me from my teenage years.  This could be dreadful, but in fact I think it works really well.  They are obviously modern, blues-influenced pieces, but to me they don't jar with the others and I find them very enjoyable indeed.

I'm not sure I quite buy the arguments advanced in the notes by Luca Pianca about "elements that inseparably link it [the Led Zeppelin pieces] to the musical and cultural past of the glorious Albion," but he (slightly convolutedly) asks that "the non-judgmental listener pass their judgement on the outcome of this project," and my judgement is very favourable.  This is a proper programme of well played lute music with some imaginative and very enjoyable modern inclusions which I can recommend warmly.

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