Emma Kirkby sounds as lithe and radiant as ever, superbly able to negotiate Amodei's melismatic writing and imbue it with subtle but effective rhetoric.
Despite the Swedish label for which this disc was recorded, and despite the Swedish origins of the group's leader, the Dowland Consort is English. It has a lot of competition in the realm of instrumental music by John Dowland, but less so for the seven linked pieces that open the program, based on the material used in the famous lute song Seven Teares. (This disc was originally recorded in 1985.) These seven pieces (and the pair of sevens would have had deep significance for Dowland's audience) are unique in Renaissance instrumental music.
NB Ultra Extended Playing Time - This product can only be played on a machine with SACD capability (super audio single layer). It cannot be played on a conventional CD player. This pioneering recording, which was first released in 1995 as a set of four conventional CDs, contains the complete solo lute pieces ascribed to John Dowland. As opposed to the composer’s lute songs and instrumental dances, which Dowland himself carefully prepared for publication, his lute solos have survived in much less reliable versions. Jakob Lindberg, lute professor at the Royal College of Music, brought all of his expertise to bear in preparing the scores and choosing among variant versions for his recordings, and also wrote the informative liner notes included in this edition.
In 1991 lutenist Jakob Lindberg bought a very special instrument – one of the rare extant lutes by Sixtus Rauwolf, built c. 1590. The restoration of the lute took several years and was rather painstaking: for some repairs they even used ancient wood from the library in the Palazzo Pitti in Florence. Considering the great age of the instrument it was nevertheless in good shape and is now probably the only one in the world that, retaining its original soundboard, is in playable condition.