Matthew Wadsworth is one of the foremost lutenists of his generation. Since graduating from the Royal Academy of Music in 1997, he has quickly gained recognition as one of leading exponents of the 17th-century lute repertoire. This includes the works of Robert Johnson, the last of the great English lutenists and the only known composer to have provided music for Shakespeare’s plays. Much of Johnson’s output is, remarkably, rarely recorded. On this CD, alongside well known songs such as Where the bee sucks and Care charming sleep, are many previously unrecorded masterpieces. Joining Matthew is soprano Carolyn Sampson, who has been described by The Gramophone as “now the best British early music soprano by quite some distance.”
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"...The songs are sung here by the ravishing Carolyn Sampson. Her clarity and warmth add immeasurably to the success of the recital, not least in such as Come hither you that love where her vocal colour and rhythmic subtlety are highly developed. Her care with textual nuance is a distinguishing feature as well. In the dramatic setting Oh, let us howl from the blockbuster, Webster’s ‘The Duchess of Malfi’, we can hear some remarkable musicianship – the evocative bass viol (Mark Levy and as ever when I’ve heard him – excellent), the curdle of Sampson’s voice and the dramatic howl of the lute. I’ve saved Matthew Wadsworth for last. Heroic, evocative, inflected, he’s everything one could wish for as a guide to this Johnsonian sound-world. In the Webster his lute positively screeches and in the Dowland-like Come heavy sleep he accompanies Sampson with telling sensitivity. Throughout he’s technically unimpeachable; he hides that technique like a conjuror.
Enough superlatives, then. There’s a pleasing acoustic in St Mary’s Church, South Creake in Norfolk. All told this is a very distinguished release and its dynamic motor, Wadsworth, not content with playing the lute, has also written the notes, produced the artwork and owns the copyright. A Restoration Man indeed."