CHRISTOPHER SMITH King of Hearts, Norwich
According to the 1906 edition of Grove's Dictionary of Music, the lute was “at one time much in use, but now obsolete”. Since then, venues like the King of Hearts have done wonders bringing the instrument back into favour.
It will be harder to find a better advocate for its revival than the American Ronn McFarlane. Slight of build, though tall, bespectacled and with a trim grey beard, he played with total absorption. He said a few carefully chosen words of explanation, but throughout his recital he let his flexible fingers do the talking as he sketched patterns of sound and coloured them with delicate control of volume.
Italy, represented by Francesco da Milano, came first among the Renaissance pieces, and then France, with a catchy dance melody. England's John Dowland, as usual, was at his most persuasive in melancholy. The great surprise was a sequence of Scottish tunes from the 17th century, even by that date full of what sounded like Highland character.
You may also want to watch:
Switching to the deeper toned Baroque lute, McFarlane next turned to Kellner and Weiss, composers from the age of Bach. Their chosen forms were suites of dances and nothing was more impressive than their quiet but tense sarabandes.
After enchanting an audience with period style, the soloist went on to works he had written himself. Some took the form of tributes to past masters. But he was not afraid to strike out for a markedly more modern style, too. For him, the lute is still a living force.
- 1 'An insult to the city': Couple ditch 'hellhole' hotel after 45 minutes
- 2 Road cleared after overturned lorry on A47/A11 Thickthorn roundabout
- 3 Travellers camped at garden centre car park
- 4 Former Norwich boxing champion banned from contacting ex-partner
- 5 Hundreds give amazing send-off to well-loved supermarket worker
- 6 Man arrested on suspicion of murder after woman found dead in flat
- 7 New Lidl stores to open in Norfolk and Waveney in £1.3bn expansion
- 8 Ex-head charged with sex attacks on boys at Norfolk school
- 9 Historic railway platform building could be demolished in station revamp
- 10 RSPCA shop loses more than £1,000 after 'slamming scam'