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John DOWLAND (1563-1626)
Awake Sweet Love, the Music of John Dowland

Come Again *
Toss Not My Soul *
Fine Knacks For Ladies *
Mourn, Day Is With Darkness Fled
His Golden Locks
In Darkness Let Me Dwell
Lachrimae +
What If I Never Speed *
Awake, Sweet Love
Away With Thee, Selfe Loving Lads
All Ye Who Love Or Fortune Hath Betray’d *
Think’st Thou Then By Thy Feigning
Weep You No More *
I Saw My Lady Weep
Tarleston’s Riserrectione +
Time Stands Still
If My Complaints Could Passions Move
Tell me True Love
O Sweet Woods *
The Lowest Trees Have Tops *
Now, Oh Now I Needs Must Part *
Julianne Baird (soprano)
The Robert DeCormier Singers *
David Tayler (lute and Orpharion) Lute solos marked +
Recorded at Concordia College, Bronxville, New York, January 1991
ARABESQUE RECORDINGS Z6622 [68.23]

 

Recorded well over a decade ago Arabesque’s salute to Dowland has variety. Two luminaries, Julianne Baird and lutenist David Tayler, were then in the first years of their mastery of this repertoire and subsequent projects have confirmed their early promise. Baird has emerged as a fine exponent and this disc, ironically, points to the ways in which she has since consolidated her technique and expressive abilities, of which more below. Tayler serves notice of his imaginative lute and Orpharion playing whilst the DeCormier Singers add consort variety, though they are not specialists in the same way and offer rather less rewards than the two soloists.

In Toss Not My Soul we can hear that the Singers’ voices are not especially well blended and that there are extraneous strands and passing deficiencies. Fine Knacks For Ladies shows them in better light perhaps because the song itself is not introspective and Now, Oh Now I Needs Must Part is better still but overall there is not much shaping to their lines and not much atmospheric identification with the music.

Julianne Baird shows more of a sense of intensity though she has a certain blanched neutrality in even such as Time Stands Still. In I Saw My Lady Weep we can hear her real purity of line and sense of placement of expressive peaks but overall her performance is marred by her then bulging vibrato which sounds very intrusive – it sounds after the note is started and widens appreciably, not under control. It mars Mourn, Day Is With Darkness Fled for example quite dramatically.

So whilst there are virtues here I can’t really suggest you start your Dowland quest here. There’s certainly no real point of comparison between these performances and those of Kirkby, Skinner, Rooley et al on L’Oiseau-Lyre.

Jonathan Woolf

 



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