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John DOWLAND (1563-1626)
Lute Music - Volume 3: Pavans, Galliards and Almains
Solus cum sola, P. 10 [4:40]
Melancholy Galliard, P. 25 [2:37]
Sir John Smith, his Almain, P. 47 [2:37]
The Lady Russell's Pavan, P. 17 [4:55]
Dowland's Bells, P. 43a, "The Lady Rich's Galliard" [1:55]
The Lady Laiton's Almain, P. 48 [1:22]
Mrs Brigide Fleetwood's Pavan, P. 11, "Solus sine sola" [5:47]
Mr Knight's Galliard, P. 36 [1:52]
Mrs Clifton's Almain, P. 53 [1:25]
Dr Case's Pavan, P. 12 [4:18]
The Right Honourable the Lord Viscount Lisle, his Galliard, P. 91, "Sir Robert Sidney's Galliard" [2:39]
Sir Henry Guilforde, his Almain [2:10]
Pavana Doulant [3:26]
The Earl of Derby's Galliard, P. 44 [2:30]
Almain in D major, P. 51 [2:37]
La mia Barbara, P. 95 [5:50]
Round Battle Galliard, P. 39 [2:50]
Almain in G major, P. 49 [1:24]
Pavan in C minor, P. 94, "Pavana Johan Douland" [7:00]
Galliard (on a galliard by Daniel Bacheler) [2:50]
Almain in C minor, P. 96 [1:37]
Nigel North (lute)
rec. St John Chrysostom Church, Newmarket, Ontario, June–July 2006
NAXOS 8.570449 [66:22]
Experience Classicsonline

Volume three of Nigel North’s Dowland lute series spins a delightful surprise. The three principal Elizabethan dances – Pavan, Galliard and Almain – are here arranged in suites. Whilst his 1604 Lachrimae contained all three dances this collection was written for viol consort and lute, not solo lute. Once again North is armed with his nine course 2005 lute, tuned to a’= 400. And as before in this series he proves a wonderfully astute and perceptive guide to the repertoire. 
Beyond simply questions of shifting and digital command – these are prerequisites that needn’t concern us as North is so accomplished a player – lies the sheer tonal warmth of his playing. Solus cum sola may have the very occasioanly audible squeak but it’s almost an invariable corollory and is greatly outweighted by the sheer burnished roundness of his tone in a reading that explores its melancholic introspection. Then too we find North enjoying, and making us enjoy,  the sprighty and engaging dialogue of  Sir John Smith, his Almain. It happens to be an ingenious variation – in effect – but it takes someone such as North to explore its fecundity and fluency of invention.
North has included some especially stately Pavanes here, none more so than The Lady Russell’s Pavan, P. 17, which forms the opening of the second “suite” he has so cannily constructed. To close the suite we have the songful  vibrancy of the brief The Lady Laiton's Almain. Additionally we find that North’s editorial work has borne fruit. He has edited  Pavana Doulant to sit more comfortably in Dowland’s style by omitting divisions that seem to him to be by the German Johannes Mylius and by “prudently editing the three basic sections.” The result certainly sounds utterly authentic. The Almain P.51  is another problematic piece, which North speculates may be an arrangement of a consort piece – though not necessarily even by Dowland since it sits awkwardly. Some tweaking in respect of tonality ensures that we can hear it in better light.
The martial rhythms of The Battle Galliard resound splendidly and unprobelematically – one pleasure of this recital is to hear the full range of sonorities North can evoke, as in the resounding lower strings of  the previously cited Almain. Pavana Johan Douland is the single longest piece – eloquent indeed in this performance, indeed rivetting in its concentration and control.
The high standards set in this series thus far – playing, editorial work, recording, notes – have been outstandingly maintained here.
Jonathan Woolf

see also review by Brian Wilson

Reviews of other releases in this series
Volume 1: 8.557586 - review
Volume 2: 8.557862 - review review


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