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Richard MacKenzie was the first ever student to play the lute as his first study at Chetham’s School in Manchester, and is now one of the rising stars of the British lute scene. On this, his second solo lute recording, he takes the temperature of French plucked instrument culture at that time. It is a very accomplished recording; the lutenist consistently attaining the beautiful bell-like tone, sweet and clear, that devotees of Renaissance lute (and four-course) guitar aim for, and the musicianship is confident throughout.

The music here was published partly for the bourgeois, gentry or noble amateur player no doubt, and some of the dance-form and ground-based pieces are, though enjoyable, not really virtuoso pieces, but alongside the vin ordinaire pieces are some really fine and singular works – many of these, it must be said, non-French players: Narvaez, Francesco (probably) and above all Albert de Rippe (alias da Ripa). These include a fantasia for guitar by de Rippe; multum in parvo indeed, for the tiny instrument of only four courses then all the rage in Paris. Let’s hope for lots more like this.

Chris Goodwin Read the full review on Agora Classica

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Early Music Today, 2015 - ©Rhinegold Publishing