Although there are a few of the usual lute suspects on this disc (Anthony Holborne and John Johnson, for instance), the star of the show is Benjamin Britten’s Nocturnal in Lindberg’s own re-working for lute. There’s a bit of a precedent for it – apparently dedicatee Julian Bream had to dissuade Britten from writing the piece for lute in the first place, arguing that more people would play it in guitar format. The piece has a solid Renaissance pedigree, constructed as a set of reverse variations on Dowland’s Come, Heavy Sleep, reserving the theme until the very end.

Lindberg’s performance of the Nocturnal is a thoughtful one, and the lute’s dark timbre certainly suits the music well. It brings out certain harmonies that initially sounded so different to the piece I thought I knew that I had to double-check the score (Lindberg is, of course, completely accurate). He takes more time over some sections than Bream, but the lute’s low range makes the concluding passacaglia positively ground-shaking.

In a neat bit of programming, the Nocturnal sits snugly in the centre of the disc, and Lindberg follows Britten’s homage with several other Dowland pieces, most of which relate to the night or dreaming (A Dream, Orlando Sleepeth, and Mr Dowland’s Midnight all appear). Naturally, Lindberg makes these pieces dance. I’ve seen this kind of Britten-inspired programming on guitar before, but never on the lute. If Lindberg is keen to try more, I’m all ears.

Composer: Dowland, Britten
Composition: Lute music 
Performer: Jakob Lindberg lute 
Catalogue Number: BIS BIS2082

Contribute to Limelight and support independent arts journalism.