Naive are delighted to present a new fascinating journey into the heart of the Elizabethan Age. This anthology contains four pieces connected with John Dowland and others by the generation of lute composers that preceded him. Lute virtuoso Hopkinson Smith named the piece 'Mad Dog', as a symbol of his creative process: “There are many orphaned lute pieces in English sources that have come down to us with no name at all. I have taken the liberty of christening four such pieces in this programme with names that seem to suit their musical spirits. As we grow into a repertoire and ingest its language and freedoms, a process of entering the creativity of an age gradually takes place. A fluency develops that leads to many types of extemporisation. The naming of unnamed pieces can be seen as a natural extension of this.” Hopkinson Smith has been praised as one of the masters of repertoire for early plucked instruments and has produced over 25 prize-winning recordings for naïve including his lute arrangements of the Bach solo violin 'Sonatas and Partitas', released in the year 2000, which was called by Gramophone "the best recording of these works on any instrument".
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"Hopkinson Smith isn't a musician to flaunt his prowess; rather, unobtrusively and with impeccable taste, he applies it to beautifully considered effect. Johnson's Jewel is light and perky on its feet; the bell-like voice-leading of Holborne's Fantasia beguiles."
"Certainly the continued presence on this earth of an artist such as Smith, whose recordings over the years of the rich German, French, Italian, English and Spanish repertoire for guitar, vihuela and lute are surely one of the greatest musical ornaments of our own age, is worth celebrating … whether in a pavan like Ward’s Repose (Smith’s title, a tribute to a former teacher), one of the many galliards whose triple time belies their profundity or a grave, imitative fantasy like Dowland’s after Gregorio Huwet, Smith’s approach is the same: locate the soul of each piece through the most sophisticated and subtle use of extemporised embellishment you’ll ever hear. Yes, it’s that good."