Live from the Maison Française–Thomas Dunford and Keyvan Chemirani

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Program: #13-10   Air Date: Mar 04, 2013

The fabulous young lutenist has already performed with a score of great early music ensembles; this week, live from the Maison Française at the French Embassy, a program of Dowland and Kapsberger.

NOTE: All of the music on this program was recorded at  La Maison Française at the Embassy of France, in cooperation with the French-American Cultural foundation. For information on the many activities and concerts at the Maison, you may explore the site:


Additional support was provided by SAFRAN… committed to protecting people and property around the world.  SAFRAN – a world leader in biometrics, fingerprint identification, and explosive detection systems. 



Thomas Dunford plays 
John DOWLAND (1563-1626) 
A Fancy 
with Keyvan Chemirani 
John DOWLAND (1563-1626) 
A Dream 
The King of Denmark’s Galliard 
Frog Galliard 
Johannes Hyeronimus KAPSBERGER (1580-1651) 
Toccata 6 

Improvisational duo around baroque themes 




With a combination of passionate sensitivity and technical proficiency rare in such a young artist, 23-year-old Thomas Dunford has quickly caught the notice of music critics both in Europe and abroad.


Mr. Dunford discovered the lute at the age of nine and the instrument has since rarely left his skilled hands. In 2006, he completed his degree at the Conservatoire supérieur de Paris (CNR) where he was unanimously awarded First Prize with honors. Mr. Dunford continued his musical education at the Schola Cantorum in Basel with Hopkinson Smith (whom the San Francisco Chronicle once declared "the finest lute player in the world today").


Thomas Dunford is a veteran of numerous master classes and workshops with such renowned artists as Rolf Lislevand, Julian Bream, Eugène Ferré and Hopkinson Smith. From 2003 to 2005, he played the role of the onstage lutenist in the Comédie-Française production of Shakespeare's Twelfth Night. He regularly performs with the ensembles Pygmalion, L'art des muses, Les Ombres, Les Siècles and Le Concert spirituel, and is currently recording his first solo album on the Alpha label.




To think of Iranian percussions as a syntax which allows him to invest the oral or written music's of the whole world, and to realise masterpieces: this is the difficult yet fascinating road that Keyvan Chemirani follows, in order to transform, bit by bit, the Persian musical inheritance received through his father Djamchid Chemirani into multiform creations. That is why, at age 35, he can in his turn teach the legacy of the oral tradition, while keeping in mind a contemporary aim.


Keyvan starts learning Zarb at age 13 with his father, assimilating the traditional technique and knowledge rapidly. Until 1989, he studies and graduates in mathematics at the same time as he starts an international career as soloist and accompanist. He also plays the Udu, an earthenware jar used in the East and in Africa, as well as the Bendir, the Daf and the Riqq, three mediterranean percussions.




John Dowland's Lachrimae was first published inthe early seventeenth century. It was reprinted numerous times in England and on the European continent, sometimes without proper credit given to the composer. Dowland acknowledged that the Lachrimæ was his best known work when, years after composing it, he signed his "Lord's Prayer" setting for the English Protestant Psalter with "Jo: dolandi de Lachrimæ..." (John Dowland of the Lachrimæ). The piece has endured innumerable arrangements; the first phrase in particular appears in many works by other composers.


Dowland himself was responsible for three versions of Lachrimæ, the first of which was for solo lute. Composed sometime before 1796, it appeared in A New Booke of Tabliture. It reappeared, this time with an added text, in Dowland's Second Booke of Songs or Ayres (1600) as "Flow my teares."


Finally, the Lachrimæ or Seven Tears of 1604 contains seven pavans, the first of which is an arrangement of the famous Lachrimæ for five viols and lute entitled Lachrimæ Antiquæ. The other six pavans each begin with the first four notes of the Lachrimæ theme in one of the voices. Before either of Dowland's arrangements appeared, Thomas Morley published his own arrangement in The First Booke of Consort Lessons of 1599; it is in this version that the piece is best known.


Nobody is sure how John Dowland'sFrog Galliard earned its curious title, but it may have something to do with one of Queen Elizabeth I's suitors, the Duc d'Alençon (later, Duc d'Anjou), whom the Queen referred to as her "frog." It was one of Dowland's most popular pieces and became so well-known that some believed the tune to be common property. Thomas Morley arranged it for an ensemble in his The First Booke of Consort Lessons (1599) without giving Dowland credit as the composer. Many ballads were based on the Frogg Galliard and arrangements were published for virginal, cittern, and numerous other instruments. It was even used to set several different texts in the Netherlands. Dowland himself re-used the piece, as the basis for the song, "Now, O now, I needs must part," No. 6 in Dowland's The Firste Booke of Songes or Ayres, (1597). It is not certain which of the two came first. The Frog Galliard is listed as Nos. 23 and 23a in Basil Lam and Diana Poulton's The Collected Lute Music of John Dowland.


The earliest known galliards, from early sixteenth century Italy, are paired with a pavan. These galliards are in a fast triple meter and generally feature three distinct phrases, or strains of eight, 12 or 16 measures, each immediately repeated. Dowland's galliards maintain this basic format, as
well as the traditional triple meter, but in many, including the Frogg Galliard, the simple repetition of a strain has given way to a strain succeeded by a decorative variation of the strain.


There exist six known versions for lute of the Frog Galliard, but only one carries Dowland's autograph. It differs from the others primarily in the varied repeat of the first strain, which consists of virtuosic triplets over a trochaic bass line drawn from the first strain. The most unusual aspect of Dowland's Frog Galliard is its trochaic rhythm, which persists throughout the piece (as well as in "Now, O now"). It is the only one of Dowland's galliards to feature this rhythm, which is rare in galliards by English composers. This unusual feature has led some historians to suggest that the Frog Galliard is derived from Adrian Le Roy's [c.1520 - 1598] Quand j'entens le perdu (1555), which Dowland may have seen while in France. Most impressive is the way Dowland subverts the trochaic pattern by drawing it out into hemiolas at the end of each strain.

Composer Info

John DOWLAND (1563-1626), Johannes Hyeronimus KAPSBERGER (1580-1651)