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One supposes the reason nobody has ever dedicated a whole CD to lute tombeaux before was the fear that the result would be too dismal, but any such misgivings are quickly dispelled on listening to this excellent CD by young multi-instrumentalist Richard MacKenzie, which even without the punctuation of charming preludes by Biechtele and Laurencini and a magnificent chaconne from the Vaudry de Saizenay manuscript, would be far from a gloom-fest.

The earliest pieces here, by Pilkington (for his own father) and Holborne are works of sweet melancholy in familiar Elizabethan style; the surprises really begin in 17th-century France, where we find that the luthistes invented, or re-invented the genre to mean not necessarily a lament, but something like a character portrait.

The organist Raquette must have been a merry old soul to judge from Denis Gaultier’s tombeau for him, and the same composer’s tombeau for Blancrocher is sublime rather than sorrowful. We also hear Gallot’s tombeau for Raquette and Dufault’s for Blancrocher, Corbetta’s for the Duke of Gloucester and de Visee’s for his own daughters. The disc closes back in Jacobean England with Hume’s ‘Death’ and ‘Life’. A profound and meditative beauty, not sadness or sorrow, characterises this lovely and fascinating recording.

Christopher Goodwin Read the full review on Agora Classica

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Early Music Today, 2017 - ©Rhinegold Publishing