In the case of Tobias Hume – a 16th century Scots-born professional soldier, part-time composer and general chancer when it came to plying his trade in both activities – the fascination is the deranged nature of the man and his art, although yesterday’s sequence of his vocal and instrumental music also showed Hume to have possessed odd flashes of genuine inspiration.
The magically distant duetting orpharions (a type of early guitar) set against the plucked viol in The Virgins Muse and the autumnal moodiness of the A Pollish Vilanell were charming musical trinkets. But while such solo songs as What Greater Griefe bore lyrical fruit, it was hard to ignore the work’s bare-faced similarity to Dowland’s much-copied Lachrimae.
In truth, this would have been a dull musical affair had it not been for the zestful self-belief of the performances. Walker made Hume’s oddball eulogy to tobacco – simply called Tobacco – sound like a weirdly convincing advert.
One moment that really sizzled was the instrumental Be Merry a Day, given the typically McGuinness cumulative build-up treatment. At that point, Hume rocked.
Rating: * * *