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GRAMOPHONE (02/2022)
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Reviewer: William Yeoman

With time, a musical work takes on the character of a character. It’s played by players who, often aided by equally characterful instruments, as is the case here, imbue it with unique qualities that are in essence embellishments.

From that perspective, Jakob Lindberg’s arrangement for lute of Bach’s D minor Chaconne, with which this recital ends, is one of the loveliest on record. Profound yet unpretentious, exquisitely limned yet shot through with darkness, it feels like a summation not just of Bach’s science but of Lindberg’s: craft for craft’s sake. The preceding works – also (mostly) arrangements from Bach’s solo violin and cello sonatas, partitas and suites, are equally satisfying. Yet more for being in a state of becoming, as they roll inexorably towards the terminal Chaconne.

Lindberg has been here before, although his 1994 release features those works ostensibly written or arranged by Bach for the lute/lute-harpsichord. There is little overlap with the present recording. Back then, Lindberg also used a 13-course lute with a second pegbox. Now he takes up his beloved Sixtus Rauwolf, built in the late 16th century as a seven- or eight-course lute and modified in the early 18th century as an 11-course instrument.

Lindberg has some friendly rivals in this field. Among my favourites are Thomas Dunhill, Hopkinson Smith, Paul O’Dette, Nigel North, Stephen Stubbs and Rolf Lislevand. Some are more demonstrative than Lindberg in their feelings about character. Others are more liberal in their ornamentation, or with their rubato. What sets Lindberg apart is his instinct for realising the texture of a particular passage according to those aspects of the music’s character he wants to emphasise. The effect, as in the Allemande and Courante of the C major Suite (BWV1007, originally in G), is as subtle and beguiling as the mellow timbre of the Sixtus Rauwolf itself.

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