DOWLAND: Consort Music and Songs (Catherine King/ Jacob Heringman/ John Bryan/ Rose Consort of Viols) (Naxos: 8.553326)
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Dowland was born around 1563 and became such an outstanding lutenist, that it was almost taken for granted that he would be appointed to the royal court. But his application was rejected, and in pique he went to live in first in Germany and then Italy where his music did take on much of the style of composition of the great Italian masters.
Having discovered the plot and communicated it to the court, he returned to England with the hope that this time he would be given that court position for Queen Elizabeth. He was again unsuccessful - what gratitude!
Before departing to central Europe, once again, he demonstrated how much England was missing by publishing 'The First Book of Songs or Ayres of Foure Partes with Tabliture for Lute'. It was reprinted several times, and his fame spread so wide that he was appointed lutenist to King Christian IV of Denmark in 1598. It was while there he wrote the 'Lachrimae, or Seaven Teares Figvred in Seaven Passionate Pauans, with diuers other Pauans, Galiards, and Almands'. It was a collection of twenty-one dances for five viols and lute, and forms the basis of the collection on this disc.
The works are almost entirely dedicated to friends and employers, the original book opening with The King of Denmark's Galiard, and working down in social status to those of whom we have no record.
The end of the Dowland story sees him back in England, penniless for many years, he was at last appointed to the royal court of King James in 1612. Sadly it also marked the decline in his creative output and little more was to come from him until his death in 1626. He is now remembered as England's leading song writer in the early 17th century.
Excellent notes from the Director of The Rose Consort of Viols, John Bryan, accompany the disc, and give details of those who inspired the twenty-three pieces on the disc.
The Consort are the best known viol ensemble working in the UK, and performs throughout Europe, featuring in many early music festivals. They are frequent broadcasters on British Radio 3, and have commissioned several works for the ensemble from British composers.
Jacob Heringman was born in the United States of America, but is now based in London where he enjoys a highly successful career as a solo lutenist, performing with many of the leading ensembles in this country.
There are alternative discs containing much the same music, but this is the only one at budget price.