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Early Music

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John DOWLAND (1563-1626)
"Selected Lute Music"

Galliards and Fancies
The Frog Galliard [23a] [02:04]
Lachrimae [15] [04:54]
Sir John Smith, His Almain [47] [02:28]
Resolution [13] [04:25]
The Most High and Mighty Christianus the Fourth, King of Denmark, His Galliard [40] [02:47]
A Fancy [6] [02:23]
The Right Honourable The Lord Viscount Lisle, His Galliard [38] [02:24]
The Shoemaker’s Wife [58] [01:05]
Lady Hunsdon’s Puffe [54] [01:22]
Mrs. Vaux Jig [57] [01:07]
Mrs. Brigide Fleetwood’s Pavan alias Solus Sine Sola [11] [05:38]
Mignarda [34] [02:59]
Orlando Sleepeth* [61] [01:07]
Can She Excuse* [42] [01:48]
Mrs. Winter’s Jump* [55] [00:55]
My Lord Willoghby’s Welcome Home [66a] [01:28]
Melancholy Galliard [25] [02:18]
A Fancy [73] [02:58]
A Dream* [75] [04:46]
Walsingham [67] [03:57]
A Fantasie [1a] [04:07]
Semper Dowland Semper Dolens [9] [06:51]
Mr. Knight’s Galliard [36] [02:02]
Farewell [3] [05:12]
Tarleton’s Riserrectione [59] [01:23]
(The numbers in brackets refer to Diana Poulton, The Collected Lute Music of John Dowland, London 1974)
Jakob Lindberg, lute, orpharion (*)
Recorded in 1994 at Djursholms Kapell, Sweden DDD
BIS–CD-300824 [75:00]

 

The reign of Elizabeth I was a ‘golden era’ in music and in arts in general. Many composers of religious music, madrigals, keyboard and lute music were active during the decades around 1600. One of them was John Dowland, whose main activity was playing the lute. He made several attempts to being appointed court lutenist, but all these attempts failed. Dowland himself blamed his catholic conviction for his misfortune.

This situation made him decide to go abroad. He went to Italy, Germany and Denmark. From 1598 to 1606 he was court lutenist at the Danish court. In 1606 he was dismissed and returned to England. Later that year he was appointed as one of the lute players at the court of James I. But that was not the prominent position he once had hoped for.

Considering his fame as lutenist it comes as a surprise that none of his lute compositions has ever been published. An announcement – in the First Booke of Songes – to publish some of his ‘lute lessons’ was never fulfilled.

The Swedish lutenist Jakob Lindberg has made a selection from his complete recording of Dowland’s lute music. He has devoted this disc to the memory of the British musicologist Diana Poulton (1903-1995), who has spent an important part of her life to the research of the life and works of John Dowland.

Lindberg has made an attractive selection, which includes all the genres represented in Dowland’s output. There are lute versions of well-known songs, like ‘The Frog Galliard’ (Now, O now I needs must part) and ‘Can She Excuse’. We find dances like almain and galliard here, which were very popular at the time. Sometimes these dances are connected to persons, like ‘Lady Hunsdon’s Puffe’ or ‘Mrs. Vaux Jig’. Some of these names reflect Dowland’s activities outside England, like the ‘King of Denmark, His Galliard’. There are also titles which appear in the oeuvre of the English virginalists, like ‘Walsingham’. Of course, some pieces are so famous and so characteristic for Dowland that they couldn’t be left out. I am referring here to ‘Lachrimae’ and ‘Semper Dowland Semper Dolens’.

A remarkable piece is ‘Farewell’, which starts with a rising chromatic scale, very reminiscent of keyboard pieces by Italian composers of the early 17th century.

Another interesting composition is ‘A Fantasie’, a beautiful polyphonic piece in several sections, one of which contains echo effects. It is easy to imagine this piece to be played on a keyboard instrument.

This is an ideal disc for those who are not interested in having all Dowland’s lute music on the shelf, but would like to know some specimen of it. And Jakob Lindberg is a quite convincing and eloquent interpreter. His phrasing and articulation are immaculate, and his ornamentation stylish and tasteful. The microphones have been put quite close to the player which make you hear him breathe. That can be distracting, but in a way I like it: it is as if he plays just for you.

Since this selection is probably first and foremost aimed at those who are no lute nuts and don’t have an intimate knowledge of Dowland’s lute music, it is a little disappointing that Jakob Lindberg gives an interesting account of Dowland’s life and a general overview of his lute music, but doesn’t explain those titles which refer to persons most people will know nothing about. And some titles are a little mysterious, like ‘Tarleton’s Riserrectione’ or ‘Resolution’. An explanation, if possible, would have been nice.

Johan van Veen



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