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Program: #14-28, Air Date: 07/07/14

This is the first of two programs looking at recent releases dedicated to composer John Dowland.

 

I. John Dowland: The Art of Melancholy (Iestyn Davies, countertenor/Thomas Dunford, lute). Hyperion CD CDA68007.

The Art of Melancholy


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As a composer, John Dowland was a supreme melodist and a master of arresting counterpoint. As a contemporary of William Shakespeare and John Donne, a ‘Jacobethan’ (that is, overlapping the Elizabethan and Jacobean periods), he was also touched in one way or another by the characteristic temperament of the age, Melancholia. Indeed, it is tempting to visualize him as a typical turn-of-the-seventeenth-century melancholic: arms folded across his bosom, black hat pulled down over his eyes (as standard depictions of the type had it). Here was a man who was content to use a motto punning ruefully on his own name as the title of one of his longest, most impressive Pavans: Semper Dowland semper dolens (‘Dowland the ever-doleful’); a man who styled himself ‘John of the Tears’, Jo:dolandi de Lachrimae, in the autograph-book of a German friend; a man whose surviving papers suggest that he was a touchy fellow, not greatly at ease with the world, sensitive to criticism and prone to suspicions that he was being misconstrued. Added to which, like that self-proclaimed melancholic Hamlet Prince of Denmark (whose tragedy was first printed in the year Dowland published the third of his Books of Songs), he could claim that he ‘lacked advancement’, for he had made several attempts to gain a position at Queen Elizabeth’s court, all of them unsuccessful. This may have rankled. The words of an old popular song fitted aspects of his life only too well: ‘Fortune my foe, why dost thou frown on me?’ It is not surprising then that he made an arrangement of Fortune my foe for his own instrument, the lute.

Yet it would be unwise to generalize these things into a gloomy diagnosis of Dowland’s career as a whole. The phrase Jo:dolandi de Lachrimae could simply be an allusion to his having composed a hugely celebrated Pavan called Lachrimae which he then made into an almost equally celebrated song, Flow, my tears, fall from your springs; and it would have needed no more than a casual hearing of some of the seven consort-Pavans that he was developing out of Lachrimae for some wag of the time to quip that Master Dowland was ‘semper dolens’. (The pun works best if you remember that his name was probably pronounced ‘Doe-land’.) But that ‘semper’ really doesn’t hold up if one takes a broader view of his professional work. After all, he was a pretty successful court musician and famous with it. Queen Elizabeth’s apparent rejection didn’t hinder his moving in intelligent aristocratic circles in London or being received hospitably by a couple of sophisticated German princes, then employed by the King of Denmark, and hired eventually by Elizabeth’s successor, James. And these positions would have involved him in the composing and playing of instrumental music both grave and gay.

1
Sorrow, stay, lend true repentant tears
.......................
[3'08]
2
Come again, sweet love doth now invite
.......................
[4'16]
3
Go, crystal tears
..........................................
[3'19]
4
Mrs Winter’s Jump
lute solo
................................
[0'48]
5
I saw my lady weep
.......................................
[5'43]
6
Flow, my tears, fall from your springs
........................
[4'45]
7
Can she excuse my wrongs?
................................
[2'23]
8
Behold a wonder here
.....................................
[3'04]
9
Semper Dowland semper dolens
lute solo
.....................
[7'02]
bl
In darkness let me dwell
...................................
[3'52]
bm
Time stands still
.........................................
[4'05]
bn
All ye whom Love or Fortune hath betrayed
....................
[4'29]
bo
Say, Love, if ever thou didst find
.............................
[2'01]
bp
Lachrimae
lute solo
.......................................
[5'37]
bq
Come away, come sweet love
................................
[2'05]
br
Shall I strive with words to move?
...........................
[2'01]
bs
Burst forth, my tears
......................................
[4'54]
bt
Fortune my foe
lute solo
....................................
[2'47]
bu
Come, heavy Sleep
........................................
[3'55]
cl
Now, oh now I needs must part
with The Frog Galliard
.............
[6’19

 

II. My Favorite Dowland (Paul O’Dette, lute). Harmonia Mundi CD HMU 907515.

Dowland: My Favorite Dowland by Paul O'Dette (2014-05-04)


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Paul O’Dette’s newly recorded personal selection of favourite pieces from the pinnacle of lute repertoire by 'the Liszt of the lute'. Many of these pieces are melancholy but consistently lovely, enhanced by Paul O'Dette's new lute: a 2008 8-course by Malcolm Prior, after Sixtus Rauwolf, Augsburg 1590. O'Dette's 5-cd set of John Dowland was awarded no less than 5 Diaspasons and is due for reissue in the near future. His next release will be of Giovanni Antonio Terzi [1580-1620] provisionally titled 'Unplayable chords'.
My Lady Hunnsdon's Puffe (P 54)
The Shoemaker's Wife. A Toy (P 58)
La Mia Barbara (P 95)
Sir John Smith, his Almain (P 47)
A Fancy (P 6)
Sir John Langton, his Pavin (P 14)
The King of Denmark, his Galliard (P 40)
The Frog Galliard (P 23a)
Lachrimae (P 15)
Galliard to Lachrimae (P 46)
Fantasie (P 1a)
Farewell (P 3)
Forlorne Hope Fancye (P 2)
The Right Honourable Robert, Earl of Essex, his Galliard (P 42a)
A Coye Joye (P 80)
Mrs Vaux's Gigge (P 57)
Mrs Winter's Jump (P 55)
The Right Honourable the Lady Cliftons Spirit (P 45)
Walsingham (P 67)
A Fancy (P 5)
A Pavin (P 18)
The most sacred Queene Elizabeth, her Galliard (P 41)
Semper Dowland semper dolens (P 9)

III. John Dowland: Shadows. Profil/Hänssler CD PH14011.

- Sarah Maria Sun (singer)
- Jochen Feucht (saxophone)
- Friedemann Wuttke (guitar)
- Werner Matzke (baroquecello)

Shadows


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In this quartet the baroque cello and the guitar form a harmonious base upon which the voice and saxophone unfold. Both take up the melodies alone and together, the sax breaks free and improvises with John Dowland's wonderful music. The cello too gives an impressive rendering of its singing possibilities. Between the singing there are four fragments for solo guitar by the English expressionist Reginald Smith-Brindle, which create a harmonious bridge between the individual songs.

Book of Songs, Book 1: Go, crystal tears (arr. for voice, saxophone, baroque cello and guitar) - Book of Songs, Book 1: Go, crystal tears (arr. for voice, saxophone, baroque cello and guitar)
> Book of Songs, Book 1: Can she excuse my wrongs, P. 42 - Book of Songs, Book 1: Can she excuse my wrongs, P. 42
> Mr. Dowland's Midnight, P. 99 - Mr. Dowland's Midnight, P. 99
> Book of Songs, Book 1: Come again, sweet love doth now invite (arr. for voice, saxophone, baroque cello and guitar) - Book of Songs, Book 1: Come again, sweet love doth now invite (arr. for voice, saxophone, baroque cello and guitar)
> Book of Songs, Book 2: Flow, my tears, fall from your springs (arr. for voice, saxophone, baroque cello and guitar) - Book of Songs, Book 2: Flow, my tears, fall from your springs (arr. for voice, saxophone, baroque cello and guitar)
> Dowland Shadows - Dowland Shadows
> Book of Songs, Book 2: I saw my lady weep (arr. for voice, saxophone and guitar) - Book of Songs, Book 2: I saw my lady weep (arr. for voice, saxophone and guitar)
> Book of Songs, Book 2: Fine Knacks for Ladies - Book of Songs, Book 2: Fine Knacks for Ladies
> Book of Songs, Book 1: Come, heavy sleep - Book of Songs, Book 1: Come, heavy sleep
> Book of Songs, Book 1: Now, O Now I Needs Must Part (arr. for saxophone and guitar) - Book of Songs, Book 1: Now, O Now I Needs Must Part (arr. for saxophone and guitar)
> Book of Songs, Book 4, "A Pilgrimes Solace": In Darkness Let Me Dwell (arr. for voice, saxophone, baroque cello and guitar) - Book of Songs, Book 4, "A Pilgrimes Solace": In Darkness Let Me Dwell (arr. for voice, saxophone, baroque cello and guitar)
> Melancholy Galliard, P. 25 - Melancholy Galliard, P. 25
> Book of Songs, Book 3: Weep you no more, sad fountains - Book of Songs, Book 3: Weep you no more, sad fountains

Composer Info

John Dowland.

CD Info

CDA68007, CD HMU 907515, CD PH14011