Jakob Lindberg has well and truly earned his reputation as one of the top lute players in the world. In this fine recital, he performs the music of Francesco da Milano, Marco dall’Aquila and Alberto da Mantova. In its heyday, the lute was the instrument of the greatest composers in the same way the piano was the instrument of choice in later centuries. These three Italian Renaissance lutenists were regarded as some of the finest musicians of the age (for example, da Milano was apparently nicknamed “Il Divino” and described as being “superior to Orpheus and Apollo”!).

Although this is music of dense, criss-crossing contrapuntal lines, which makes it sound knotty and complex, in fact these pieces are ever-tuneful. In the liner notes, Lindberg divides the pieces into three categories – fantasias/ricecars (where the composer writes freely whatever he feels like), intabulations (re-workings of music originally for voices), and dances. Adept combining of pieces from each category ensures that there’s never a dull moment and that the pieces are shown in their best light, with ricecars rubbing shoulders with vocal music by Josquin and Arcadelt.

BIS certainly knows how to make the instrument sound good. There’s a subtle reverb to the record that allows the listener to hear the delicate decay of the notes in each part of these intertwining works. A lovely homage to the great lute masters of the past.

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