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Golden Age of Lute Music
Julian Bream (lute)
rec. 1962 ALTO ALC1338 [76:55]
What Andrés Segovia had been for the guitar, Julian Bream was to be for the lute. He gave a recital in Wigmore Hall in 1952, when he was 19, and part of the recital was played on the lute. In 1960 he formed the Julian Bream Consort and started to perform Elizabethan music with amongst others Peter Pears. Today the lute is established not only in specialist circles, and all of us who appreciate the instrument should be grateful to Julian Bream.
This disc contains material originally issued in 1962 by RCA and HMV. The recordings have stood the test of time wonderfully. The sound is full and leaps out of the speakers with stunning realism. As for the composers … Dowland was only the greatest but father and son Johnson, Rosseter, Morley and Holborne were also leading names. The Elizabethan period was certainly “The Golden Age of Lute Music” – even though the text on the disc states that it was “Golden Age of Light Music”.
77 minutes of music by the greatest lutenists of the time and everybody can find his or hers favourite piece. Cutting’s well-known version of Greensleeves is a top contender. But the dominating composer is John Dowland, the epitome of the Elizabethan melancholy, represented by the Melancholy Galliard and, not least, Semper Dowland, semper Dolens (Always Dowland, always doleful).
There is an interesting connexion between Dowland and Julian Bream with Benjamin Britten as the connecting link. In 1963 Britten wrote a piece for Bream, titled Nocturnal after John Dowland. It is a set of variations on themes from the song Come Heavy Sleepe, the Image of True Death. The piece, which ends with a setting of the song itself, has become a standard work in many guitarists’ repertoire. Batell Galliard (tr. 14), subtitled King of Denmark’s Galliard, reflects that Dowland for some years was lutenist at the court of King Christian IV in Denmark. Bream returned the compliment with his consort arrangement of the Courtly Dances from Britten's opera Gloriana.
That the playing is beyond criticism goes without saying and Peter Avis contributes excellent liner-notes.
A self-recommending issue and at Alto’s super-budget price you won’t be ruined either.
Track Listing Robert JOHNSON (c.1582 – 1633)
1. Two Almaines [2:18] John JOHNSON (c.1540 – 1595?)
2. Fantasia [4:13] Francis (?) CUTTING (c.1550 – c 1596).
3. Walsingham [3:27] John DOWLAND (1563 – 1626)
4. Mignarda (Galliard) [4:13] Francis (?) CUTTING
5. Almaine [1:20] Philip ROSSETER (1568 – 1623)
6. Galliard [3:18] Francis (?) CUTTING
7. Greensleeves [2:56] John DOWLAND
8. Galliard upon a Galliard of Daniel Batchelar [3:01] Thomas MORLEY (1557 – c.1603)
9. Pavan [2:57] Robert JOHNSON
10. Carman’s Whistle [2:37] Baruch (?) BULMAN (fl c 1600)
11. Pavan [4:05] Daniel BACHELAR (1572 – 1619)
12. Mounsiers Almaine [2:23] Anthony HOLBORNE (?- 1602?)
13. Pavan [3:21] John DOWLAND
14. Batell Galliard (King of Denmark’s Galliard) [2:39] Anthony HOLBORNE
15. Galliard [2:37] John DOWLAND
16. Queen Elizabeth’s Galliard [1:30]
17. Lachrimae Antiquae Pavan [2:56]
18. Mrs White’s Nothinge [1:03]
19. Mrs Vaux’s Gigge [1:07]
20. Orlando Sleepeth [2:02]
21. Fantasia [5:02]
22. Melancholy Galliard [3:46]
23. My Ladye Hunsdon’s Puffe [1:48]
24. Semper Dowland, Semper Dolens [3:34]
25. An Unnamed Piece [1:30]
26. Sir Henry Umpton’s Funerall [3:01]
27. Forelorne Hope Fancy [3:49]