John DOWLAND (1563 - 1626)
Dowland in Dublin
Sleep wayward thoughts [2:36]
Now o now I needs must part [2:38]
Behold a wonder here [4:11]
Fine knacks for ladies [2:14]
Say, love if ever thou didst find [2:55]
Away with these self-loving lads [1:51]
Come again, sweet love [3:09]
Come heavy sleep [2:58]
Lachrimae pavan [1:50]
Time stands still [3:03]
Me, me and none but me [2:26]
Kemp's Jig - Mistress Winter's Jump - My Lady Hunsdon's Puffe [3:29]
Clear or cloudy [2:28]
O sweet woods [2:51]
A Galliard [1:46]
A shepherd in a shade [3:21]
His golden locks [4:24]
Michael Slattery (tenor, shruti box)
La Nef (Grégoire Jeay (flutes); Alex Kehler (violin); Amanda Keesmaat (cello); Betsy MacMillan (viola da gamba); Andrew Horton (double bass); Seán Dagher (cittern); Sylvain Bergeron (lute, guitar); Patrick Graham (percussion))
rec. September 2010, Église Saint-Augustin, Mirabel, Québec, Canada. DDD
ATMA ACD2 2650 [49:19]
Many people will wonder what the title of this disc is about. It is explained in the liner-notes by Sylvain Bergeron. "'To my loving countryman, Mr. John Forster the younger, merchant of Dublin, in Ireland'. In thus dedicating the song 'From Silent Night' in his collection A Pilgrim's Solace (1612) John Dowland reveals his possibly Irish origins. Was Dowland, often considered the first great English composer, actually Irish? He may have belonged to an old Irish family, the O'Dolans, who settled in Dublin in the middle of the 16th century. The hypothesis that he was Irish seems strengthened by the fact that he was a Catholic, and had an honorary degree from Trinity College in Dublin".
It is notable that this subject is almost completely ignored in the article on Dowland in New Grove by Peter Holman. He only states that "nothing has been found to substantiate (...) W.H. Grattan Flood's claim that he came from Dalkey near Dublin". The arguments of Bergeron are not very convincing. That is certainly the case with his reference to Dowland's Catholic convictions. Some renowned colleagues of his were Catholics as well, like William Byrd, Peter Philips and John Bull, and they were definitely English. Moreover, Holman mentions that Dowland "admitted in 1595 in a long autobiographical letter to Sir Robert Cecil that he had become a Catholic in France". From 1579 to 1583 he served Sir Henry Cobham when he was English resident in Paris.
The suggestion that Dowland had Irish roots is used as an excuse to present a selection from Dowland's oeuvre as Irish folk music. This probably has also to do with Michael Slattery, who seems to have Irish roots as he has previously recorded a disc with the title The Irish Heart. He has also a vivid interest in folk music which has led him to take lessons in Irish folk music with the instrument he plays in some items on this disc. The shruti box is an Indian instrument which is used to accompany the chanting of prayers.
The 19 songs and instrumental pieces on this disc are all arranged for an ensemble of various instruments. Most of them were not used in Dowland's time, like the cello and the double bass. Even the violin was rare. So if you listen to this disc, forget everything you know about the performance practice in Dowland's time, and enjoy this folk approach of his music - or not. The latter goes for me: I have no feeling whatsoever for folk music, and I didn't enjoy this disc at all. When the editor sent me a list of new discs I included this one in my wish list mainly because of Michael Slattery. I had heard this young American tenor in two oratorios of Handel (Solomon and Samson, both recorded by Carus) and I liked his voice and his interpretations. That made me curious about his performances of Dowland's songs.
His way of singing here is quite different from the recordings I just mentioned. Whether he succeeds in singing like a folk singer is something I can't tell. What I can tell is that he changes the rhythms and even the melodies of most songs quite drastically. In my view much is lost in these performances, vocally and instrumentally. There is no doubt about the competence of singer and players, but their approach to Dowland's music hasn't convinced me at all. I definitely would like to hear Slattery in Dowland songs as they were conceived by the composer.
As far as this disc is concerned, it will mainly appeal to lovers of (Irish) folk music.
Johan van Veen
This disc will mainly appeal to lovers of (Irish) folk music.