52,943 reviews
and more.. and still writing ...

Search MusicWeb Here



International mailing

  Founder: Len Mullenger             Editor in Chief: John Quinn               Contact Seen and Heard here  

Some items
to consider

Chopin Edition 17CDs
now available separately
£11 post-free anywhere


100th birthday of Mieczyslaw Weinberg on December 8, 2019.
Renate Eggbrecht has recorded all 3 violin Sonatas

Mozart Brahms
Clarinet Quintets


Recordings of the Month


Opera transcriptions & fantasias


Mozart Brahms
Clarinet Quintets

Schubert Symphony 9


Jean-Baptiste LEMOYNE

Enescu Ravel Britten

Debussy Images etc.

53 Studies on Chopin Études 1
Konstantin Scherbakov (piano)





Advertising on

Donate and keep us afloat


New Releases

Naxos Classical

Click to see New Releases
Get 10% off using code musicweb10

Nimbus Podcast

Obtain 10% discount

Special offer 50% off
15CDs £83 incl. postage

Musicweb sells the following labels

Altus 10% off
Atoll 10% off
CRD 10% off
Hallé 10% off
Lyrita 10% off
Nimbus 10% off
Nimbus Alliance
Prima voce 10% off
Red Priest 10% off
Retrospective 10% off
Saydisc 10% off
Sterling 10% off

Follow us on Twitter

Subscribe to our free weekly review listing

Sample: See what you will get

Editorial Board
MusicWeb International
Founding Editor
Rob Barnett
Editor in Chief
John Quinn
Seen & Heard
Editor Emeritus
   Bill Kenny
MusicWeb Webmaster
   David Barker
Jonathan Woolf
MusicWeb Founder
   Len Mullenger


CD: AmazonUK AmazonUS

John DOWLAND (1563-1626)
Complete Lute Music

Nigel North (lute)
rec. St John Chrysostom Church, Newmarket, Ontario, 2004-2007
Originally issued and still available separately as 8.557586, 8.557862, 8.570449 & 8.570284
Superbargain price
NAXOS 8.504016 [4 CDs: 64:39 + 66:03 + 66:22 + 60:18]

Experience Classicsonline

The Naxos John Dowland Complete Lute Music set is the culmination of a recording project by the lutenist Nigel North. The four discs have already appeared individually but are now available, each in its original packaging but grouped together in a card slip-case. Each disc is structured as a recital programme and each stands up well as an individual contribution to the composer’s discography. Together, they offer the advantage of a comprehensive survey and also have sufficient diversity and musical interest that on completing one, the listener’s natural inclination is to turn to the slip-case to find the next instalment.

One surprise for me of this total immersion approach was discovering how much up-beat music Dowland wrote. His pavans and other melancholic numbers richly deserve their popularity, but marches, jigs and galliards make up a similar proportion of his work. These are equally satisfying, the composer’s deep humanity coming through without any need for melancholic pathos. Nigel North cleverly constructs his programmes around the themes and moods of the music, while always maintaining a recitalist’s sense of diversity. So, for example, volume 2 is entitled ‘Dowland’s Tears’, and includes most of his well-known melancholic numbers, concluding with the famous Semper Dowland Semper Dolens. But the pavans, funerals and adieus are interspersed with a handful of galliards, each of which balances the mournful tone without breaking the mood.

North performs with impressive clarity, the surety and adroitness of his tone constant across the four discs. An enviable combination of rigour and suppleness characterises his playing. He arpeggiates with evenness and regularity, never tempted to manipulate the chords for melodic gain. His rendition of Semper Dowland Semper Dolens is a case in point, evenly strummed throughout, allowing the music’s simple melodic line to make its point without any extraneous decoration or rubato. On the other hand, his melodies and introductory figures often breathe with a sense of almost vocal lyricism. So, for example, Mrs. Vaux’s Galliard, opens with a very gentle accelerando through the opening few chords, deftly approaching, and then immediately establishing, the tempo of the melody. A lively ornamentation is occasionally employed, as in The King of Denmark’s Galliard, which is spiced with lively, if disciplined, mordant figures. He is not afraid to explore extremes of tempo. His reading of Captain Digorie Piper’s Galliard, for example, is brisk, while Mr. Dowland’s Midnight is slower than you will hear elsewhere. In both cases, the clarity of the tone and the lyricism of the melodic line are more than sufficient to secure the integrity and musicality of the result.

The performances were given on 8, 9 and 10 course instruments with pitches ranging from A=392hz to 440hz. Even at the lower end of this pitch spectrum, the sound is clear and bright, a testament perhaps to the luthier’s art. Most of the instruments were made in the last ten years. The recording venue was the church of St John Chrysostom, Newmarket, Ontario, and the generous acoustic makes for a particularly satisfying sound profile. A halo of resonance surrounds the lute but, more importantly, does not interfere with the clarity of the attack or the evenness of the decay.

Dowland’s lute music has made few appearances on CD in recent years, making this well played, well programmed and well recorded set all the more valuable. The high standard of the recorded sound suggests that modern technology may be of future benefit to lutenists, in that the notoriously soft tone of their instrument makes an ideal subject for sound recording when reproduced with this level of care. The sound of the player’s fingers moving along the neck can often be heard. For those put off by such things, I would stress that it is usually only just above the level of audibility. For me, the sound only adds to the verisimilitude and intimacy of the listening experience. Experienced Dowland collectors are going to want to seek this recording out, although most will have probably already bought the discs individually. Newcomers to the composer’s work could find no better place to start than with Nigel North’s recordings, and they will have the added advantage of being able to listen to over four hours of Dowland’s elegant, courtly strains without any fear of having the experience ruined by Sting wailing away over the top (see review).

Gavin Dixon

see also review by Jonathan Woolf (Bargain of the Month November 2009)

Reviews of
individual volumes

Detailed tracklist 
Fancyes, Dreams, Spirits: Lute Music Volume 1

Lord Strange's March, P. 65 [1.40]
Mrs. White's Thing, P. 50 [2.14]
Mrs. White's Nothing, P. 56 [1.19]
Fancy (Fantasia) in G major, P. 73, "Tremolo" [3.27]
Mrs. Nichols' Almain, P. 52 [1.34]
Fantasies: No. 1. A Fantasie, P. 1 [4.27]
Prelude, P. 98 [1.06]
Fantasies: No. 5. A Fancy, P. 5 [2.37]
A Dream, P. 75 [5.05]
Fantasies: No. 7. A Fancy, P. 7 [5.02]
Mrs. Winter's Jump, P. 55 [1.40]
Lady Clifton's Spirit, P. 45 [1.48]
Mrs. Vaux's Galliard, P. 32 [2.27]
Mrs. Vaux's Jig, P. 57 [1.16]
Tarleton's Resurrection, P. 59 [2.55]
Fantasies: No. 6. A Fancy, P. 6 [3.00]
Fantasies: No. 2. Forlorn Hope Fancy, P. 2 [3.52]
The Shoemaker's Wife, A Toy, P. 58 [1.14]
Lady Hunsdon's Puffe, P. 54 [1.50]
Orlando Sleepeth, P. 61 [2.55]
Mr Dowland’s Midnight P.99 [1.56]
Fantasies: No.4. Farewell “In Nomine” P.4 [4.34]
Farewell; Fantasie No.3 P.3 [6.41]
Nigel North (lute)
rec. St John Chrysostom Church, Newmarket, Ontario, July 2004
NAXOS 8.557586 [64.39]

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]
Nigel North (lute)
rec. St. John’s Chrysostum Church, Newmarket, Ontario, Canada, 16-19 June 2005.
NAXOS 8.557862 [66.03]

Pavans, Galliards and Almains Lute Music - Volume 3
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]

The Queen’s Galliard; Lute Music Volume 4
The Most Sacred Queen Elizabeth, her Galliard, P.41 [1:22]
The Queen’s Galliard, P.97 [1:44]
Galliard in g minor, P.22, ‘Dowland’s First Galliard’ [2:13]
Galliard in g minor, P.21, ‘John Dowland’s Galliard’ [1:16]
Complaint, P.63, ‘Fortune my foe’ [1:22]
The Frog Galliard, P.23 [2:02]
Aloe, P.68 [3:15]
Galliard in g minor, P.31, ‘Galliard on Walsingham’ [2:04]
Walsingham, P.67 [4:50]
Coranto, P.100 [1:48]
Galliard in f minor, P.27 [1:55]
Come away, P.60 (arr. of Come again, Sweet love doth now invite, new version by Nigel North) [2:25]
Sir John Souch’s Galliard, P.26 [1:42]
Go from my window, P.64 [4:04]
Galliard in D major, P.24, ‘Awake sweet love, thou art returned’ [1:21]
Galliard in D major, P.24, ‘Awake sweet love, thou art returned’ (new version by Nigel North) [2:38]
What if a day, P.79 [1:43]
Galliard in c minor, P.35 [1:49]
My Lord Willoughby’s Welcome Home, P.66 [1:30]
Can she excuse, P.42 [1:53]
Robin, P.70 [3:42]
Fortune my foe, P.62 [2:33]
Loth to depart, P.69 [6:26]
Dowland’s Galliard, P.20 [1:36]
The Most High and Mighty Christianus the Fourth, King of Denmark, His Galliard, P.40 [3:05]
Nigel North (lute)
rec. St John Chrysostom Church, Newmarket, Canada, 28 June-1 July 2007.
NAXOS 8.570284 [60:18] 



Making a Donation to MusicWeb

Writing CD reviews for MWI

About MWI
Who we are, where we have come from and how we do it.

Site Map

How to find a review

How to find articles on MusicWeb
Listed in date order

Review Indexes
   By Label
      Select a label and all reviews are listed in Catalogue order
   By Masterwork
            Links from composer names (eg Sibelius) are to resource pages with links to the review indexes for the individual works as well as other resources.

Themed Review pages

Jazz reviews


      Composer surveys
      Unique to MusicWeb -
a comprehensive listing of all LP and CD recordings of given works
Prepared by Michael Herman

The Collector’s Guide to Gramophone Company Record Labels 1898 - 1925
Howard Friedman

Book Reviews

Complete Books
We have a number of out of print complete books on-line

With Composers, Conductors, Singers, Instumentalists and others
Includes those on the Seen and Heard site


Nostalgia CD reviews

Records Of The Year
Each reviewer is given the opportunity to select the best of the releases

Monthly Best Buys
Recordings of the Month and Bargains of the Month

Arthur Butterworth Writes

An occasional column

Phil Scowcroft's Garlands
British Light Music articles

Classical blogs
A listing of Classical Music Blogs external to MusicWeb International

Reviewers Logs
What they have been listening to for pleasure



Bulletin Board

Give your opinions or seek answers

Pat and present

Helpers invited!

How Did I Miss That?

Currently suspended but there are a lot there with sound clips

Composer Resources

British Composers

British Light Music Composers

Other composers

Film Music (Archive)
Film Music on the Web (Closed in December 2006)

Programme Notes
For concert organizers

External sites
British Music Society
The BBC Proms
Orchestra Sites
Recording Companies & Retailers
Online Music
Agents & Marketing
Other links
Web News sites etc

A pot-pourri of articles

MW Listening Room
MW Office

Advice to Windows Vista users  
Site History  
What they say about us
What we say about us!
Where to get help on the Internet
CD orders By Special Request
Graphics archive
Currency Converter
Web Ring
Translation Service

Rules for potential reviewers :-)
Do Not Go Here!
April Fools

Untitled Document

Reviews from previous months
Join the mailing list and receive a hyperlinked weekly update on the discs reviewed. details
We welcome feedback on our reviews. Please use the Bulletin Board
Please paste in the first line of your comments the URL of the review to which you refer.