Dowland is recognised as the true giant of late 16th- and early 17th-century lute. His music is very beautiful and although often characterised by melancholy ("Semper Dowland, semper dolens") there are also lively dances and works of limpid beauty here. Over four CDs you get the whole of Dowland's wonderful output for solo lute, and it makes a set to last a lifetime.
Lindberg plays the music superbly. Other excellent recordings exist by Paul O'Dette and Nigel North, but this remains my favourite Complete Dowland, possibly because it was the first I heard. Lindberg, to me at least, has a real empathy with the music and the excellent technique needed to express it well. These things are a matter of taste, of course, but given the astounding value represented by this reissue you can't go far wrong with this set. Very highly recommended.
on 26 February 2001
Unfortunately for Jacob Lindberg, Paul O'Dette has also released a "complete" Dowland lute works. And the latter's is the more complete answer for buyers. Lindberg is fine with the more pacey material (the very first four tracks of Disc One are excellent, crisply-delivered performances that bode very well indeed), but is consistently bogged down in the quieter, slower pieces, at least, in comparison with O'Dette. I often detect difficulty from Lindberg in such passages and he sounds stretched too far here and there. Sorry to say, he often comes almost to a standstill, where O'Dette always sustains the listener's interest and emotions. Indeed, O'Dette totally outclasses Lindberg on such tracks. However, program just those tracks where Lindberg flows, and there is much of beauty to be heard. Luckily, my CD player has a Delete File function, allowing programs to be automatically recalled whenever the disc is inserted into the player, without having to reprogram. This allows the programming of an attractive selection, devoid of the less successful tracks. I would say 30% of Lindberg's Dowland is excellent, conceding absolutely nothing to O'Dette. Another 40% is fair to good, but the remaining 30% is, like I said, bogged down. Go for O'Dette. With him, 95% sounds superb. Having said all that, I will not be getting rid of the Lindberg; I'll keep both sets. Lindberg's best moments are well worth having, and BIS's recording quality is outstanding.