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That the lutenist Anthony Rooley is a creative as well as interpretive artist emerged 30 years ago with his brief diversion into sculpture. Then, in 1998, he composed, most of it in five weeks, the remarkable song cycle Orphan Wailings for his wife the soprano Evelyn Tubb, recording it with her in 2002.

The seven songs set poems about the lute written 1550–1650 by Sidney, Wyatt and others, collected by Rooley over decades, including ‘Blame Not My Lute’, which in an original setting started his career. Two lute solos, Prelude and Fantasia, complete the set and rest the singer from a demanding part. No 1 is unaccompanied, quotes Dowland’s Lachrimae, and requires Oriental ornaments, microtones, Sprechstimme, and very low vocal word-painting. These features recur, perfected by Tubb’s slightly husky, expressive and bang-in-tune delivery.

Rooley’s lute parts mix chords and counterpoint with dissonance, chromaticism and even rock-guitarist’s string-bending, in styles ranging from the Campion pastiche ‘To Day’ to the freely expressionist ‘Sir I have Seen’. Rooley and Tubb recorded the Ferrabosco, Morley and Dowland settings of ‘I Saw My Lady Weep(ing)’ and, in 2012, his beautiful arrangement of Purcell’s ‘Funeral Sentences’. These complete what is a momentous inaugural disc on the Lute Society label by one of its most famous members.

Rick Jones Read the full review on Agora Classica


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Early Music Today, 2014 - ©Rhinegold Publishing