Like many writers, musicians and artists of Elizabethan times, the composer and virtuoso lute player John Dowland imbued his art-form with an exquisite melancholy. The beauty and simplicity of the melodic lines he created enchanted not only his contemporaries but also composers and performers of recent years. Donald Macleod introduces a selection of Dowland's own songs and lute pieces plus the first of two pieces by Benjamin Britten featured this week, based on one of Dowland's most popular songs and written for another virtuoso - Julian Bream.
Mrs Winter's Jump (arr Claire van Kampen)
Flow my tears
My Lady Hunsdon's Puffe; Sir John Smith's Almaine; Farwell
Sleep wayward thoughts; Come away, come sweet love; Come again, sweet love doth now invite
Come heavy sleep
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Dowland may not have succeeded in his wish to obtain a court appointment in England but his skills as a skilled lutenist spread abroad and in 1598 he took up an appointment at the Court of Christian IV of Denmark where he was one of the highest paid members of the household. His 'Second Book of Songs' was published two years later. Donald Macleod introduces some pieces from that collection performed by a Canadian group who give Dowland's songs a decidedly celtic twist, more of his distinctive lute pieces and a piano arrangement of one of his most popular songs by Percy Grainger.
arr. Jacob van Eyck: Can she excuse
My Lord Willobies wellcome home
My Lord Chamberlain his Galliard
I saw my lady weepe
Shepherd in a Shade
Percy Grainger: Now O now, I needs must part
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Dowland still had his post in the Danish Court where his lute-playing skills were handsomely rewarded but he lost any chance to obtain the post he so desperately wanted in Elizabeth's court when she died in 1603, just before the publication of his third book of songs. Donald Macleod introduces a selection from that collection whose words contain extravagant tributes to the Queen, and another of Benjamin Britten's works inspired by Dowland poignant melodies.
Semper Dowland semper dolens (arr. Christian Lindberg)
What if I never speed
The Shoemaker's Wife
Britten: Lachrymae Op.48a
Paduana Lachrimae (transcr. Byrd)
Dowland's latest publication, which appeared in 1604, was his only collection of entirely instrumental works, famous for the seven deeply felt consort pieces linked by the same falling 'tear' motif. Donald Macleod introduces this important set plus a selection of dances which appear in the same collection, and an intriguing arrangement of some of Dowland's songs by the French jazz guitarist and composer David Chevallier.
Wilt thou unkind thus reave me
M. George Whitehead his Almand
All ye, whom Love or Fortune (arr. Chevallier)
Lachrimae or Seven Tears
In 1612, the same year that saw his last publication, Dowland finally got his heart's desire when he was given a royal appointment as one of King James I's lutes. Donald Macleod introduces a group of devotional songs from what would prove to be Dowland's last collection, plus a response from a contemporary composer to a song widely regarded as Dowland's finest.
The Right Honourable The Lord Viscount Lisle, his Galliard
In Darkness Let Me Dwell
Thomas Adès: Darknesse Visible
If that a sinner's sighs
Lady Riches galyerd
Go nightly cares