Dowland - Lachrimae or Seven Tears
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Cat No: CKD527
Number of Discs: 1
Release Date: 24th June 2016
Elizabeth Kenny (lute)
WorksLachrimae, or Seaven Teares ... with divers other Pavans, Galiards, and Almands
Elizabeth Kenny (lute)
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’.
1. Lachrimae Antiquae
2. Lachrimae Antiquae Novae
3. Lachrimae Gementes
4. Lachrimae Tristes
5. Lachrimae Coactae
6. Lachrimae Amantis
7. Lachrimae Verae
8. Mr Nicholas Gryffith his Galliard
9. Sir John Souch his Galliard
10. Semper Dowland semper Dolens
11. Mr Giles Hoby his Galliard
12. The King of Denmark’s Galliard
13. Mr Bucton his Galliard
14. The Earl of Essex Galliard
15. Captain Piper his Galliard
16. Mr Henry Noell his Galliard
17. Mr Thomas Collier his Galliard with two trebles
18. Sir Henry Umpton’s Funeral
19. Mr George Whitehead his Alman
20. Mrs Nichols’s Alman
21. Mr John Langton’s Pavan
2Lachrimae Antiquae Novae
8Mr Nicholas Gryffith his Galliard
9Sir John Souch his Galliard
10Semper Dowland semper Dolens
11Mr Giles Hoby his Galliard
12The King of Denmark's Galliard
13Mr Bucton his Galliard
14The Earl of Essex Galliard
15Captain Piper his Galliard
16Mr Henry Noell his Galliard
17Mr Thomas Collier his Galliard with two trebles
18Sir Henry Umpton's Funeral
19Mr George Whitehead his Alman
20Mrs Nichols's Alman
21Mr John Langton's Pavan
Directed by Laurence Dreyfus, and with the brilliant Elizabeth Kenny on lute, Phantasm revel in the rich textures and often bold harmonies of the Lachrimae pavans, each of which takes the falling four-note ‘tear’ motif heard at the outset as its point of departure. The seven pavans are titled ‘Old tears’, ‘Old tears renewed’, ‘Sighing tears’, ‘Sad tears’, ‘Forced tears’, ‘A Lover’s tears’, and ‘True tears’, and when played in sequence as they are here they have an overwhelming expressive power. This performance emphasises their overarching unity, though not at the expense of highlighting moments of musical eventfulness for maximum emotional impact. Witness the opening of Lachrimae Tristes (track 4): the performers do not make the mistake of lingering too long over this fundamentally rhythmic music, but the subtle voicing of the upper parts is shaped perfectly to maximise the heart-stopping sadness of the exquisite harmonies. And then contrast this with the opening of Lachrimae Amantis (track 6), where the mood is transformed by the slight lead taken by the bass part. No wonder many musicians consider this collection of works a milestone in the development of purely instrumental chamber music.
Phantasm bring the same sensitivity and technical accomplishment to Semper Dowland semper dolens, which seems to contain a whole world in its six-minute span, right down to the resigned tread of its final strain. And then there are the ‘divers other pavans, galiards and almands’, each linked to one of Dowland’s contemporaries, and all bursting with character, from the toe-tapping King of Denmark’s Galiard and the light-footed Mrs Nichols Almand to the marvellously lugubrious strains of Sir Henry Umptons Funeral. Throughout it all, the musicians have evidently rethought every phrase: not just how to shape it, but when to bring the lute to the fore, when to let it merely shadow the bowed strings of the viols, when to apply more tonal intensity, when to ease back. Ornamentation, too, is beautifully judged.
As with their highly acclaimed recording of William Lawes’s Royall Consort Suites (CKD470), Phantasm raise the art of consort playing to new heights on this disc, with performances that transcend pigeonholing as mere ‘early music’. With an ideally warm recording made in Magdalen College, Oxford, and peerless playing, this disc should be in any music lover’s collection. And to coincide with its release, three of Phantasm’s earlier recordings (music by John Jenkins and John Ward) are re-released in Linn’s ‘Echo’ series. Who could ask for more?
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