John Dowland (1563-1626) was one of England’s greatest composers and lutenists, as well as a ground-breaking innovator. It was Dowland who effectively created the English lute-song, imaginatively drawing together elements from the broadside ballad, dance music, consort song and madrigal. He is famous for his passionate and almost obsessive melancholy which is never far away in his music, with sleep and death being sought as a release from earthly woes. Although clearly an affectation of the time, it was one which drew an acutely personal response from Dowland. He produced four marvelous books of songs and ayres, as well as over 100 solo pieces. The solos include virtually every form used by lutenists at the time: fantasies, dance movements (most notably, pavans and galliards) ballad tunes and sets of variations. In our own day, Dowland’s music is very much thought of as being fresh and inventive, yet in his preface to A Pilgrime’s Solace (1612) he mentions that his contemporaries thought otherwise. Although his music was admired throughout Europe for its tunefulness, dark melancholy and chromaticism, Dowland was still using older forms of composition, rather than the more fashionable lighter dances which were in vogue at the time. His pavans are written in an imitative style, found in consort music, which is so very different from the bass-driven harmonic textures of the younger generation such as Robert Johnson and Daniel Bacheler. Of the six pieces which begin this record, ‘Lachrimae Pavin’ and ‘The Earl of Essex Galliard’ also appear in Dowland’s books of songs: Lachrimae Pavin as the song, ‘Flow my teares’ (Book Two, 1600), and the Earl of Essex Galliard as ‘Can she excuse my wrongs’ (Book One, 1597). (…) from liner notes (Mathhew Wadsworth)Download booklet
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