Jakob Lindberg Thoroughly Masters Theorbo Solos

Jakob Lindberg is a master of the theorbo. I wonder, though: how does he travel with that thing? Flying must be a nightmare. 

The theorbo is an early Baroque instrument and part of the lute family. The outsized member of the family. It doesn’t even fit on the album cover!

The theorbo was typically over 6 feet long and often used as a bass instrument. A common theorbo had 14 courses (pairs of strings), though some had as many as 19 courses or 38 strings. The instrument had a range running from middle C to about two and a half octaves lower. 

Usually the theorbo was part of the basso continuo, supporting solo instruments. A keyboard instrument such as a harpsichord filled in the harmonies. And the theorbo outlined the bass. 

Robert de Visée was an accomplished stringed instrumentalist. He served the courts of both Louis XIV and Louis XV of France in the early 1700s. He was a virtuoso luenist, guitarist, and theorboist. Visée published a collection of works for solo theorbo in 1716. He aimed to demonstrate the viability of the theorbo as a solo instrument. 

And he succeeded. This release features several works from that collection. It also includes some of Visée’s unpublished manuscripts for solo theorbo. 

It’s a remarkable program. Visée’s writing exploits the full potential of the instrument.

The theorbo has a deep, resonant sound. It may remind modern listeners of a cello, but it’s more than that. The theorbo, like the lute, has a clean tone that’s never muddy — no matter how low the notes. 

Lindberg’s playing is a perfect blend of technical ability and tasteful musicianship. He skillfully weaves together Visée’s polyphony, keeping all the lines balanced. 

It’s a wonderful collection of music. And it’s most wonderfully performed. Highly recommended. Though I still wonder How Lindberg travels with that thing. 

Robert de Visée: Theorbo Solos
Jakob Lindberg, theorbo
BIS 2562

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