Remembrance of Things Past
John DOWLAND (1563–1626)
Preludium [1:13]
Sleep wayward thoughts [4:32] *
Die not before thy day [2:43] *
Say love if ever thou didst find [2:48] *
Now, O now I needs must part [4:53] **
Go crystal tears [2:47]
Time stands still [4:34] *
Fine knacks for ladies [3:32] *
Sorrow stay [3:30] *
Sorrow stay [3:14]
His golden locks time hath to silver turned [3:58] *
Flow my tears [4:19]
All the day [3:09]
Come, heavy sleep [3:37]
Peter CROTON (b. 1957)
While you here do snoring lie (text: William Shakespeare) [1:17]
Remembrance of things past; Sonnet XXX (text: William Shakespeare) [2:42]
The Waking (text: Theodore Roethke) [2:44]1
Quietness (text: Rumi, translation by Coleman Barks) [3:20]1
Now, O now I needs must part [3:31]1
Theresia Bothe (soprano)
Peter Croton (lute)
Derek Lee Ragin1
* lute solo arranged by Peter Croton.
** lute solo arranged by J. Dowland & P. Croton
rec. Basel City Studios, Switzerland May 2009
GUILD GMCD 7341 [62:34]

This is an unusual offering, and it’s very far from a conventional single disc survey of Dowland’s music, either for lute or voice. Instead it offers recreationist possibilities and a more curious interplay between his music and that of the performer-composer Peter Croton who has been inspired by it. He has arranged a number of Dowland’s songs for lute, Croton’s own instrument, and there are several of his own compositions as well.

Croton is a fine lutenist, with an acute ear for colour, and he possesses a strong technique. He’s not as zesty or tangy a performer as is, say, Nigel North, whose own performance of the Preludium, with which Croton starts the programme (authentic, unmediated Dowland) is more vital. For the ‘arrangements’ Croton is careful to vary the possibilities for contrast – stating the theme on the lute, for instance, before the voice enters, or introducing solo lute B sections. This last device is something he employs extensively in Now, O now I needs must part which is the longest setting. Whereas a long introductory lute solo prefaces the song proper in Time stands still.

What gives this project even greater resonance is the chosen singer, Theresia Bothe. Her voice continues the theme of cross-current enshrined in the disc; it embodies elements of classical purity in places but also has a decided folk influence more commonly to be found among the Waterson and Wainwright clans. This is deliberate of course, the better to inflect these arrangements with a sense of intimacy, though whether it actually succeeds in transmuting – or limiting – the original source material from the Books of Songs is very much a matter of taste. I find it often very effective but sometimes a failure. Time stands still is a case in point, where the emotive quality is curiously stunted.

Croton’s own compositions occupy an equally modern ground, one akin to music theatre, which is how Bothe delivers Remembrance of things past. For the three remaining songs Derek Lee Ragin joins Croton. Again the music is Broadway orientated, intriguingly so given the ensemble involved. Do I detect however, in Croton’s writing and playing, hints of the oud in the exotic Rumi setting, giving it an even greater sense of place? Ragin by the way seldom uses his counter-tenor, singing pretty consistently in his lower voice.

So this is a somewhat out of the way disc, pursuing a very individual slant on Dowland, and succeeding more often than not.

Jonathan Woolf