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A recital to value

Lute solos and songs
by Robert Johnson from
Shakespeare's England,
reviewed by

Avie    AV2053

Away Delights. Lute solos and songs from Shakespeare's England by Robert Johnson. © 2004 Matthew Wadsworth

Robert Johnson died in 1633 leaving behind a reputation as one of the great English lutenists and yet only a small number of pieces as adequate proof of the fact.

He enjoyed a considerable reputation for some thirty or more years after his death, being compared by some with Dowland, from whose then fashionable style he progressed interestingly. Johnson used the full compass of a nine- or ten-course instrument to great effect, and Matthew Wadsworth's clear and careful performances of ten pieces (almost half of his surviving publications) include three Pavans, and four Almaynes of which this is the third [listen -- track 20, 0:00-1:19].

The songs, an excellent selection with both lute and bass viol accompaniment, are most pleasingly performed by Carolyn Sampson. Although occasionally Johnson's authorship may be a little doubtful, as his setting of 'Have you seen the bright lily grow', from Ben Jonson's The Devil is an Ass [listen -- track 17, 0:02-1:27], there are some gems, among which I would include 'Where the bee sucks' from Shakespeare's Tempest [listen -- track 4, 0:01-0:56].

The intimacy and agreeable sound quality make this a recital to value.

Copyright © 12 July 2005 Patric Standford, Wakefield UK


Away Delights - Lute solos and songs from Shakespeare's England by Robert Johnson

AV2053 DDD Stereo NEW RELEASE 64'47" 2004 Matthew Wadsworth

Matthew Wadsworth, lute; Carolyn Sampson, soprano; Mark Levy, bass viol

Robert Johnson (c1583-1633): Fantasia; The gipsies' dance; As I walked forth; Where the bee sucks; Gallyard (My Lady Mildmay's Delight); Woods, rocks and mountains; Come hither you that love; Tell me dearest; Pavan I in C minor; Almayne I; Hark! hark! the lark; Away delights; Oh, let us howl; Pavan II in F minor; Almayne II; How wretched is the state; Have you seen the bright lily grow?; Care-charming sleep; Pavan III in C minor; Almayne III; Almayne IV; With endless tears; Come heavy sleep


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Record Box is Music & Vision's regular series of shorter CD reviews