John DOWLAND (1563?-1626) Dowland's Tears:
Lute Music Volume 2 Lacrimae Pavan [5.24]; Galliard to Lacrimae [2.41]; Pavan (P16)
[5.13]; The Earl of Essex His Galliard [1.54]; Pavan (P18)
[5.40]; Mr.Giles Hobie’s Galliard [1.55]; Dowland’s
Tears (I saw my lady weep arr. North) [2.09]; Sir
Henry Umpton’s Funeral [5.56]; Sir John Langton’s
Pavan [5.48]; Langton’s Galliard [2.37]; Piper’s
Pavan [5.16]; Captain Digorie Piper’s Galliard [1.54]; Dowland’s
Adieu (P30) [4.58]; Galliard (P30) [1.59]; Mignarda (Henry
Noel’s Galliard) [3.00]; Lacrimae (alternative
version) [5.15]; Semper Dowland Semper Dolens [4.24]
rec. St.John’s Chrysostum Church, Newmarket, Ontario, Canada,
16-19 June 2005. DDD NAXOS 8.557862 [66.03]
John Dowland was the greatest English song and lute composer
of his period no one would doubt. His five books of songs
attest to a greater variety of composition than he is often
given credit for.
was an almost exact contemporary of Shakespeare and was born
in London. During his service in Paris to the English Ambassador
in the 1580s he converted to Roman Catholicism. On the other
hand it now seems that Shakespeare had been born into a Roman
Catholic family. This helped Dowland as he travelled throughout
Europe especially to Catholic lands; certainly it did not
help him in his home country. He even worked in Denmark for
eight years for that amazingly musical monarch King Christian
IV, before being forced to move on in 1606. He did not return
to London until 1612, and by then he seems to have lost the
impetus and inspiration to compose.
compositions were published within a span of only fifteen
years but many will no doubt date back to the sunnier times
of the 1580s.
second Book of 1600 has twenty-two songs but the best known
at the time and the most iconic is called ‘Lachrymae or Seven
Teares’ better known as ‘Flow my tears’ often heard for viol
consort. This most beautiful of songs opens the disc as a
typical Pavan. The Pavan form is generally of three sections
in slightly contrasting keys; what we would call major and
minor. Each section is repeated with the repeat gently ornamented.
Probably these ornaments were improvised. and Nigel North
does this with discretion. The ‘Lacrimae Pavan’ has the famous
falling motif at the beginning. This influenced much other
music of the period. The Pavan (P16) begins in such a way.
same collection of 1600 also included the wonderful ‘I saw
my Lady weep’ arranged here by Nigel North as a lute solo.
From now on the motto which Dowland attaches to himself ‘Semper
Dowland Semper Dolens’ (always Dowland always sad) seems
to hold sway. This wonderful piece ends the CD in sombre
In between these publications,
by 1603, a sombre period had fallen over the country. It
had seen the death of the Queen and of that most Elizabethan
of composers Thomas Morley. As well as a withdrawn sadness
there is also a mood of inescapable serenity. Much later
Dowland was to follow up the collection with two autumnal
anthologies ‘A Musical Banquet’ of 1610 and ‘A Pilgrim’s
Solace’ - his last publication of 1612. The Mignarda Galliard,
which is also known as the song ‘Shall I strive with words
to move’, also appears here in a lute arrangement.
North on this his second CD - the first concentrated on Fantasias - in the proposed complete Dowland Lute music has paired
Pavans and Galliards. At least that was his intention. However,
as he states in his excellent and fascinating booklet note
Dowland wrote more Pavans than Galliards. His wonderful collection ‘Lacrimae
or Seven Teares’ consists entirely of Pavans. North writes, “my
solution was to make seven pairs of Pavans’ (for this CD)
and Galliards and to make the emphasis on Melancholy, with
more lightness from the Galliards”. Proportionately there
remains a predominance of slow music as the Galliards are
short. That said, Nigel North is a master of the expressive
art of lute playing so there is rarely a dull moment. Mostly
the recording aids him, but it’s a good idea to put up the
volume more than usual. He is not as closely microphoned
as on some lute recordings and does not have such an immediacy
consider a few other highlights. The melancholy ‘Dowland’s
Adieu’ - perhaps written for the composer’s leave-taking
of the court of King Christian - is a Pavan and not often
recorded. It might have been a good idea to have ended the
CD with it.
Earl of Essex’s Galliard is also known as the ‘Battle Galliard’.
Essex was executed in early 1600 so the piece comes from
the years (c.1598) of his greater popularity at Court. It
is in triple time and its famous fanfare opening is strong
and memorable. ‘Captain Digorie Piper’s Galliard’ is also
known as ‘If my complaints could passions move’. Published
in the First Book of Songs of 1597, it can also be found
in the Fitzwilliam Virginal Book arranged by John Bull. Its
upward yearning opening is unforgettable.
the P stands for the main editor of Dowland, Diana Poulton
who has also written extensively on the composer. Where a
piece does not have a name she has allotted it a number.
this disc is an excellent follow-up to the first. Nigel North
competes with any other lutenist who has tackled this repertoire.
At Naxos’s excellent price this surely cannot be resisted.
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