Mad Dog: The Elizabethan Lute

 

John Dowland, though also a sprightly and humorous composer, is most famous for the darker side of his character and the pervading melancholy that nourished his unquiet soul.  But he was in no way the inventor of highly charged melodic poignancy in solo lute music.  Two important composers of the generation of English lutenists that preceded him clearly show signs of great invention including moments of tormented yearnings which led to music of extraordinary depth.  John Johnson (died in 1594) and Anthony Holborne (died in 1602) were the most prominent lutenists to remain in England during the Elizabethan period (Dowland spent many years on the Continent).  Their œuvre contains rhapsodic Pavans of lyrical intensity and richness of harmony, spirited Galliards, striking character pieces (one of which is entitled “Mad Dog”) and elaborate variations.  They were both virtuosos if the highest calibre as the daring of their diminution techniques attests.  This program highlights theirs and Dowland’s masterpieces from the 1580s and 90s.


Hopkinson Smith

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Hopkinson Smith is surely the most charismatic lutenist in the world today.
Kronen Zeitung, Austria
3 January 2018
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Lute player Hopkinson Smith is still a phenomenon at the age of seventy. No one can bring the Renaissance to life in a way that is as sprightly, as crisp and with as much melancholy as he.
De Standaard - Cultuur en Media, Belgium, July 26th, 2017

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Hopkinson Smith himself is still at the top: technically more confident and mellowed than ever, intellectually razor-sharp and clear-sighted.
BR-Klassik, Germany, July 2nd, 2017
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Smith’s approach is the same: locate the soul of each piece through the most sophisticated and subtle use of extemporized embellishment you’ll ever hear. Yes, it’s that good.
Gramophone, England, Sept. 2017

 

Click here for a photo of Hopkinson Smith (attributed to Vico Chamla)

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