Dowland A Dream

Dowland was Elizabethan England’s finest composer for the lute. Smith proceeds from a notion that perhaps the scores were merely memoirs of Dowland’s improvisations and groups the compositions into “sets” with preludes and interludes. The 20 pieces range from the deliciously melancholic—down in the darkness where Dowland wished we’d let him dwell—to sprightly and colorful contrapuntal flights of improvisation. Smith’s mastery of the instrument and inventive re-imaginings are corridors to another way of seeing what we think we know, melodic and compelling. In conjuring Dowland’s inner turmoil and occasional scattered brightness, he calls to mind the contemporary guitar improvisations of Bill Frisell.