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English Ballad Tunes
John Dowland and his contemporaries

Nigel North (lute)
Linn CKD 176 [67 mins]

This is an immaculate sequence of Elizabethan and Jacobean tunes, many well known, others less so, subjected by virtuoso lutenists to elaborate variations. All the lute versions have come down in tablature from unknown Elizabethan lutenists and they have been edited by Nigel North, a leading English lutenist now based in Indiana University.

Many of these would have been improvised, but Nigel North believes that some collected here are too complicated and extended for that to have been feasible.

My preference is for mixed vocal and instrumental CDs in this repertoire, but this is undoubtedly a bench-mark recording which should serve as a model to young lutenists, and it is a pleasure to listen to, if better a few at a time.

He recorded them for Linn on modern 8 & 9 course lutes by Paul Thompson of Bristol, at the York International Centre for Early Music. I guess he plays them equally fluently in live concert. For the recording he took three days in June 2001; it is impossible to guess how substantial was the contribution of "Finesplice"?

© Peter Grahame Woolf