Dowland And His Legacy


01Thwarted Ambition20180219

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)
Musicians of Shakespeare's Globe

Flow my tears
Iestyn Davies (countertenor), Thomas Dunford (lute)

My Lady Hunsdon's Puffe; Sir John Smith's Almaine; Farwell
Julian Bream (lute)

Sleep wayward thoughts; Come away, come sweet love; Come again, sweet love doth now invite
Consort of Musicke

Come heavy sleep
Iestyn Davies (countertenor), Thomas Dunford (lute)

Britten: Nocturnal
Sean Shibe (guitar).

02Dowland Spreads His Wings20180220

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.

Frog Galliard
Paul O'Dette (lute)

arr. Jacob van Eyck: Can she excuse
Nathalie Marec (soprano)
Bruno Boterf (tenor)
Les Witches

My Lord Willobies wellcome home
The Lady Laiton's Almone
Orlando sleepeth
Mrs White's Nothing
Go from my windowe
Mistris Whittes Thinge
Paul O'Dette (lute and orpharion)

My Lord Chamberlain his Galliard
Paul O'Dette, Jakob Lindberg (lute)

I saw my lady weepe
Ellen Hargis (soprano)
Paul O'Dette (lute)

Shepherd in a Shade
His Golden Locks
Clear or Cloudy
O Sweet Woods
Fine Knacks for Ladies
Michael Slattery (tenor)
La Nef

Percy Grainger: Now O now, I needs must part
Piers Lane (piano).

03The Third And Last Booke Of Songs20180221

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)
Stockholm Chamber Brass

What if I never speed
I must complain
Away with these self-loving lads
To ask for all thy love
Say, Love, if ever thou didst find
Mark Padmore (tenor)
Elizabeth Kenny (lute)

The Shoemaker's Wife
Sir John Langton's Pavan
Captain Digorie Piper his Galliard
Forlorn Hope Fancy
Nigel North (lute)

Britten: Lachrymae Op.48a
Maxim Rysanov (viola)
BBC Symphony Orchestra
Conductor, Edward Gardner

Paduana Lachrimae (transcr. Byrd)
Colin Tilney (harpsichord).


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
Sting (vocals)
Edin Karamazov (lute)
DG 177 9890 T17

M. George Whitehead his Almand
The Earl of Essex his Galliard
Sir Henry Umpton's Funerall
The King of Denmark's Galliard
Christopher Wilson (lute)

All ye, whom Love or Fortune (arr. Chevallier)
The lowest trees have tops (arr. Chevallier)
Anne Magouet (soprano)
David Chevallier (guitar)
Bruno Helstroffer (theorbo)

Lachrimae or Seven Tears
Elizabeth Kenny (lute).


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
Paul O'Dette (lute)

In Darkness Let Me Dwell
Robin Blaze (countertenor)
Elizabeth Kenny (lute)

Thomas Adès: Darknesse Visible
Inon Barnatan (piano)

If that a sinner's sighs
Thou mighty God
When David's Life
When the poor cripple
Consort of Musicke

Lady Riches galyerd
The Right Honourable Ferdinando Earle of Darby, his Galliard
The most sacred Queen Elizabeth, her Galliard
Tarletones riserrectione
Loth to Depart
Paul O'Dette (lute)

Go nightly cares
Andreas Scholl (countertenor)
Julian Behr (lute).