John Dowland – Lachrimae or Seven Tears – Phantasm, Elizabeth Kenny (2016)
FLAC (tracks) 24 bit/96 kHz | Time – 57:22 minutes | 1,01 GB | Genre: Classical
Studio Master, Official Digital Download | Source: LINN | Booklet, Front Cover | © LINN Records
Recorded: July 2015, Magdalen College, Oxford, United Kingdom
Summing up the Renaissance preoccupation with melancholy, this extraordinary collection of dance music for viols and lute includes Dowland’s ‘signature’ piece, Semper Dowland semper Dolens. Dowland reveals a personal world of sublime sadness, grief, anger and melancholy mollified by moments of joy and gladness.
A skilled lutenist, Dowland’s intricately-worked parts demand perfect synchronicity between Phantasm and Elizabeth Kenny, who rise to the technical and tempi challenges of marrying their instruments.
The popularity of Dowland’s music in his own lifetime continued through the centuries with Lawes, Jenkins and Gibbons all paying homage to Dowland’s ‘Tears’. Although freed from lyric constraints poetic images linger prompting Phantasm’s Laurence Dreyfus to describe this as ‘the most sensuously tuneful hour of music ever written’.
How to describe Dowland’s Lachrimae, or Seaven Teares? Seven pavans for five-part viol consort with lute, each a subtle transformation of the pavan known in its song version as ‘Flow my tears’, would be a start, but hardly does justice to its patient flow of exquisitely drawn and closely summoned emotion. These are not ‘division’ variations but a sequence of new pieces, each related to its companions by the falling motif that opens the song but also by numerous significant cross-references between them. In Laurence Dreyfus’s words, they are ‘an extended process of reflection on a poetic-musical theme’.
Phantasm’s performances are totally convincing and absorbing. Drawing richly on their depth, intensity and homogeneity of tone, their acuity to the music’s ever-active emotional flux leaves them unafraid to use forceful gestures of articulation and dynamics to make a point. This keen awareness of the music’s power extends to their performances of the 14 other pieces Dowland included in his Lachrimae publication, most of which are arrangements of his own songs and dances. But while many are light-hearted, short and familiar, nothing is routine in Phantasm’s hands. Semper Dowland semper Dolens (rather more in the mould of the seven pavans) ends in crushing silence, The King of Denmark’s Galliard is proud of its manly power, while The Earl of Essex his Galliard or Mr George Whitehead his Alman really rock with what Dreyfus defines as rhythmic ‘jumps’ and ‘landings’. Even the timings of the gaps between pieces are part of the act, carefully judged to create effective groupings and segues.
The CD is beautifully presented, with readable and insightful booklet articles by Dreyfus and Elizabeth Kenny. Dowland characterised his seven pavans as ‘passionate’, and one can sense the true passion of Dreyfus and his performers in what has all the hallmarks of a classic recording. -Lindsay Kemp, Gramophone
John Dowland (1563-1626)
Lachrimae, or Seaven Teares
1 Lachrimae Antiquae[4’02]
2 Lachrimae Antiquae Novae[3’28]
3 Lachrimae Gementes[3’36]
4 Lachrimae Tristes[3’50]
5 Lachrimae Coactae[3’17]
6 Lachrimae Amantis[3’56]
7 Lachrimae Verae[4’02]
8 M. Nicholas Gryffith his Galiard[1’47]
9 Sir John Souch his Galiard[1’30]
10 Semper Dowland semper dolens[6’20]
11 M. Giles Hobies Galiard[1’19]
12 The King of Denmarks Galiard[1’53]
13 M. Buctons Galiard[1’16]
14 The Earle of Essex Galiard[1’17]
15 Captaine Digorie Piper his Galiard[1’23]
16 M. Henry Noel his Galiard[1’58]
17 M. Thomas Collier his Galiard with 2 Trebles[1’22]
18 Sir Henry Umptons Funerall[4’15]
19 M. George Whitehead his Almand[1’46]
20 Mistresse Nichols Almand[1’10]
21 M. John Langtons Pavan[3’55]
Laurence Dreyfus, treble viol and director
Jonathan Manson, tenor viol
Mikko Perkola, tenor viol
Emilia Benjamin, tenor viol
Markku Luolajan-Mikkola, bass viol
Elizabeth Kenny, lute