By my count, Ronn McFarlane has recorded at least 14 albums of Celtic music, both as a soloist and as a member of the Baltimore Consort. Scottish tunes of the 17th Century were often transcribed for lute (and McFarlane’s recorded a good deal of it).
This release presents McFarlane playing his own lute arrangements of Irish and Scottish tunes. And they work really well.
The sound of the traditional Irish harp isn’t that different than a lute. Both are plucked stringed instruments with a pleasingly soft attack and warm, intimate sound.
McFarlane is a past master of his instrument (or instruments in this case). For this recording, he uses a 13-course lute. The instrument provides a wide tonal range, letting him change the character of the music by shifting registers.
The tunes are grouped in sets, making the disc a series of small, self-contained suites (or dance sets). A fair number of works by Turlogh Carolan are included, which lay very well on the lute.
The recorded sound is exceptionally fine. Sonos Luminus recorded in DXD at 24 bit, 352.8kHz. What does that mean? On a good playback system, you should hear all the fine detail of the instrument, including overtones.
McFarlane’s playing is impeccable and lovingly delivered. This is music he knows intimately, and his performance shows it. I’d highly recommend this release to anyone who loves early music, Celtic traditional music, and exceptional playing in general. “The Celtic Lute” holds to Ronn McFarlane’s high standards of musicianship and taste.
The Celtic Lute
Ronn McFarlane, lutes
Sono Luminus DSL-92225