The Scottish Lute

January 1, 1990

"They are animated, chaste and simple in their style and expression, and though 'old and plain,' and more remarkable for spirit and originality than for elegance, it may be said of them, as of the poetical relics of ancient minstrelsy, 'With rough majestic force they move the heart, And strength and nature make amends for art." Thus wrote William Dauney in 1838 about the music found in the Skene Mandora Book (c.1625). His words could just as aptly describe all the music contained in this recording. - Ronn McFarlane

This disc offers 56 pieces from 17th-century compilations, probably best described as early equivalents of the fake books that popular musicians use today. These dance tunes and songs were the pop music of their time, now turned into "classical music" entirely by the aging process. McFarlane bounces through these catchy tunes with great verve; he's obviously having a good time with the music. The mandora is a small member of the lute family, pitched an octave higher than the two other early lutes McFarlane plays. It sounds rather like a ukulele. There is no profundity to be heard on this disc, but it's highly entertaining. As usual with Dorian, the sound quality is superb. - Leslie Gerber