Lord Herbert of Cherbury's Lute Book
The early seventeenth-century lute book of Lord Herbert of Cherbury, inter alia a diplomat, contains 242 pieces, mostly by leading composers of the day and many with no other source, which gives a unique overview of the last years of the ten-course renaissance lute. Cherbury was virtually self-taught but, if he was able to play many of the pieces in his book, his contacts with prominent international lutenists must have done wonders for both his technique and his knowledge of French and Italian styles. Looking at O'Dette's selected menu you might think ''Another hors d'oeuvres—28 items in 77 minutes'', but you would be doing it less than justice. A roll-call of composers (some on record for the first time), a variety of styles and some striking music—start with the Fantasias of Hely, though I don't have the space to tell you where to end—ensure that one's attention doesn't wander.
All this would count for much less if it were not for O'Dette's majestic performances; he is the most prodigiously equipped of today's lutenists and he shows it. Even in the most demanding of passages (and there are many of them) he is in control of the fate of every note. A small point: Dowland wrote a Galliard upon a galliard of Daniel Bachlar and Bacheler's very characteristic response is a welcome part of a programme that adds so much fresh and strong material to the catalogue, and is so superbly played and recorded. In bringing what is in truth somewhat esoteric repertory to life and making it speak appealingly to today's listeners, O'Dette is a worthy (and, for those who care deeply about such things, more academically 'correct') successor to Julian Bream.'