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Julian Bream plays Dowland and Bach
John DOWLAND (1562-1626)
CD 1 [72:20]
Queen Elizabeth's Galliard [1:33]
Lachrimae Antiquae Pavan [2:58]
Mrs. White's Nothinge [1:05]
Mrs. Vaux's Gigge [1:08]
Farewell (A Fancy) [6:14]
Orlando sleepeth [2:04]
Fantasia [5:05]
King of Denmark's Galliard [1:14]
Melancholy Galliard [3:49]
My Ladye Hunsdon's Puffe [1:50]
Semper Dowland, Semper Dolens [3:37]
Almain (An Unnamed Piece) [1:32]
Sir Henry Umpton's Funeral [3:04]
Forlorne Hope Fancy [3:53]
First Booke of Songes (1597)
Sleep wayward thoughts [2:35]
Awake, sweet love [2:57]
Dear, if you change [3:15]
Away with these self-loving lads [1:35]
Rest awhile you cruel cares [3:52]
If my complaints could passions move [4:39]
Burst forth my tears [2:07]
Can she excuse my wrongs [4:15]
His golden locks [3:15]
Unquiet thoughts [3:26]
CD 2 [68:42]
Second Booke of Songes (1600)
If floods of tears [1:42]
Humor say what mak'st thou here [2:32]
Praise blindness eyes [2:21]
Third Booke of Songes (1603)
O what hath overwrought [1:44]
Flow not so fast, ye fountains [3:31]
Come when I call [2:02]
The lowest trees have tops [2:24]
A Pilgrim's Solace (1612)
Shall I strive with words to move [3:15]
Stay, Time, awhile thy flying [2:15]
My heart and tongue were twins [2:08]
Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750)
Partita for Violin Solo No.2 in D minor, BWV 1004: Chaconne [15:41]
Prelude In C Minor BWV 999 (Played In D Minor) [1:42]
Suite in E minor, BWV 996: (Sarabande [4:16]; Bourée [1:34])
Partita for Lute in C minor, BWV 997 (played in A minor) (Prelude [2:51]; Fugue [6:37])
Prelude, Fugue and Allegro in E flat, BWV 998 (played in D major): (Prelude [2:36]; Fugue - attacca: [6:51]; Allegro [3:58])
Julian Bream (lute and guitar)
Margaret Field-Hyde (soprano); John Whitworth (counter-tenor); Rene Soames (tenor); Gordon Clinton (baritone); Edith Steinbauer (treble viol); Beatrice Reichert (alto viol); Frieda Litschauer (tenor viol); Ernst Knava (bass viol)
rec. Konzerthaus, Vienna, May 1956. ADD
DEUTSCHE GRAMMOPHON 4777750 [72:20 + 68:42]

 

Experience Classicsonline


This welcome reissue as part of DG’s Original Masters series comes as a celebration of Bream’s 75th birthday and a timely reminder of just how wide-ranging his performing repertoire actually was. It combines three Westminster LPs from the 1950s and the excellent production values of this set include nostalgic reproductions of the original LP covers. There’s also an informative essay by Tully Potter on Bream’s early career.

The solo Dowland items comprise a well-chosen programme of contrasting items, with Dowland’s lighter side well represented in addition to his more characteristic serious pieces. Bream captures equally well the sublime desolation of Lachrimae Antiquae Pavan or Forlorne Hope Fancy as the dance-based items such as Mrs Vaux’s Gigge. Bream is also adept in the larger scale pieces at delineating the structure over a longer timespan; here his virtues of clear rhythmic articulation, dynamic contrast and an ability to clarify the music’s contrasting strands are used to great effect.

These virtues are equally in evidence in the solo Bach items on the second disc. Some items are played on the guitar, some are transposed; here there is a palpable sense of discovery and exploration, and the music gives Bream free rein to demonstrate his already formidable virtuosity. Here and in the Dowland items the closely-miked sound-picture, while creating a proper feeling of intimacy between performer and listener, can also occasionally give an impression of heavier playing here than was perhaps the case in reality; certainly his later RCA LPs of the same repertoire do not suffer in this respect.

The selection of Dowland Ayres are, I’m afraid, really something of a historical curiosity; interesting as an example of historical performance practice but nowadays sounding rather redolent of the church choir at the vicar’s tea party. The Golden Age Singers comprised five well-known oratorio singers of the day; the group was at the forefront of the early music revival in the 1950s. The performers make an effort to tone down their voices to an intimate scale, and blend well as a group; they obviously are familiar with working together. I suspect some older collectors may have a soft spot for these recordings; I’ll stick with Emma Kirkby et al.

It’s a pity that room could not be found for all or part of Bream’s 1955 10” disc of Dowland songs with Peter Pears, which is mentioned in the booklet; the partnership was very significant both to Bream as a performer and in the revival of interest in Dowland’s music at the time. Perhaps space and/or copyright issues prevented this?

More recent performers have perhaps brought greater technical security to the music, with improved sound quality; the great thing about these recordings is Bream’s enthusiasm and the missionary zeal he brings to the performances.

Ewan McCormick

 





 


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