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Elizabethan Pavans
Oleg Timofeyev (lute)
rec. May-June 2014, St. Bridget’s Church, Johnson County, Iowa, USA

The earliest Pavan recorded here can be dated to about 1540. It’s probably by Henry VIII, the earliest to have been composed in England, as far as we know. The earliest otherwise comes from a collection of 1508 composed by Joan Ambrosio Dalza. The Pavan is often thought of as a slow, processional dance suitable at court for men in bulky clothes and women in large gowns and headdresses but the dance left the court. It became an important compositional form during the 16th and into the 17th centuries when it was probably not expected that it would be an accompaniment to dance. It was written more for listening and for private playing. Although there are various types of pavan, its form - AABBCC - never really changed. Often but not always contrasted with the livelier galliard, the pavan became quite often a serious piece. On this CD we hear pavans played on a lute but there are keyboard examples by John Bull and William Byrd and others. There are other instances of the form for viol consort by Ferrabosco and even by such late figures as John Jenkins (d.1678).

This well planned disc takes a variety of examples and put them into roughly chronological order. It begins with Henry VIII and ends with a composer active at the court of James I, John Daniel. When I say variety I am talking forms. I hadn’t really thought that there were so many openings for composers in this direction.

Lacrimae Pavan, perhaps the most famous example, by Dowland, is in three definite, even contrasted sections. The same applies to the beautiful Semper Dowland, Semper dolens. Both the underrated Daniel Bachelor and John Daniel (brother of playwright Samuel) ran with Dowland’s mantle and wrote even longer, more complex Pavans during the Jacobean age. These are the longest on the disc and end it.

Some pavans were for dancing and these include the Passamezzo Pavan or the ‘Passing Measures Pavan’ which gets a mention in ‘Twelfth Night’. These tend to be anonymous and are built around a ground bass or, anyway a set of harmonic progressions.

Some pavans are what Oleg Timofeyev describes, in his fascinating booklet notes, as ‘Rhapsodic Pavans’. These are in the usual three sections but the sections do not necessarily relate and are free melodically to go their own way. He mentions Ferrabosco’s Pavan in this context. The Spanish Pavans of which the ones by John Johnson and Thomas Robinson are good examples are often variation sets rather than dances. Another, the mysterious Mason Pavan by the otherwise unknown Mathias Mason is in the ‘sweet’ major key.

For Oleg Timofeyev this project has been a labour of love developing for over twenty years. One wonders why no one has thought of it before and it came out of a paper he wrote whilst a student entitled ‘The English Pavan - A Vocabulary of Gestures’. The thesis found him searching through long forgotten manuscripts like the Marsh Lute Book. This CD is the result of his studies, and who knows, another may emerge. He is closely recorded but with adequate space around the sound. He plays a bright-sounding 10-course lute made by Ray Nurse in 1984. It is based on a model by the sixteenth century maker Hans Frei some of whose instruments can still be found.

This CD will give pleasure at any time but as a teaching tool it is also of much interest. Worth the modest financial outlay.

Gary Higginson


1. Kyng Harry the VIIIth’s Pavyn [1.58]
2. Anon The Kinges Pavan [1.44]
3. Anon Pavan (c.1590) [2.47]
4. Clement COTTON (fl.c.1580) Quadro Pavan [2.16]
5. Anthony de CONTIE? (fl.16th cent) Anthony Pavan [2.18]
6. Anon Passamezzo Pavan (Marsh Lute Book) [3.35]
7. Alfonso FERRABOSCO I (1543-1588) Pavan [3.25]
8. Anon Quadro Pavan (Willoughby Lute Book ) [2.03]
9. Peter PHILIPS (c.1560-1628) Pavan Cromatica [3.26]
10. John JOHNSON (fl.c.1579-1594) Spanish Pavan [4.51]
11. Peter PHILIPS Philips Pavan [3.19]
12. Mathias MASON (d. after1609) Mason Pavan [4.14]
13. John DOWLAND (1563-1626) Lacrimae Pavan [4.50]
14. Thomas ROBINSON (fl.c.1589-1609) Spanish Pavan [3.04]
15. John DOWLAND Semper Dowland, Semper Dolens [3.16]
16. Anon: Sims Pavan [4.52]
17. Anon: Pavan (Cozens Lute Book) [2.51]
18. Daniel BACHELOR (1572-1619] Pavan [5.15]
19. John DANIEL (1564-1626) Rosamund [6.04]



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