Jakob Lindberg: Jacobean Lute Music
Upon hearing this terrific release for the first time, I remarked to a friend that it could easily have been titled ‘Jakobean Lute Music’. Because, apart from its being an excellent survey of early-17th-century English and Scottish lute music, it also finds London-based Swedish lutenist Jakob Lindberg in uncommonly fine form.
Elizabeth I and Henry VIII were both famous exponents of the lute, and by the time of James I’s accession to the throne in 1603, that most gentle and noble of courtly instruments had long been resident in the hearts and homes of every person of quality. Thus the lute music from this period represents some of the best ever written for the instrument. The forms may be relatively simple – dances such as the courante and galliard and variations on popular tunes – but composers such as Daniel Bacheler, Robert Johnson and the great John Dowland wielded them with genius. In addition, there were also the daringly complex fantasias to rival those written for virginals or viols.
Under Lindberg’s fingers, and on his beloved Sixtus Rauwolf lute (c1590), even the relatively straightforward anonymous Scottish pieces included here are imbued with the same affecting lyricism he lavishes on the works of those composers mentioned above and others. His performance of Johnson’s late (and lengthy) F minor Pavan is especially good, making a virtue of the lute’s narrow dynamic range and relatively rapid decay of each note to create exquisite rivulets of feeling from every phrase.