Iestyn Davies, countertenor: Thomas Dunford, lute
NEW YORK • Carnegie Hall • 10 April 2014
|At the turn of the 16th century into the 17th, English music achieved a moment of great florescence in one intimate genre: the lute song or ayre. In Iestyn Davies's words, "The seeds of the art song were essentially sown in the Elizabethan era, and John Dowland was the greatest exponent of this lute-song genre. Heartbreaking sentiments-as painfully familiar today as in the composer's own time-pervade the songs."|
Davies and lutenist Thomas Dunford share six of Dowland's remarkable songs, including his radical masterpiece "In darkness let me dwell."
Also on this programme, three of Dowland's lesser-known colleagues: Robert Johnson, Thomas Campion, and John Danyel. Though unfortunately little of his music has survived, Danyel in particular reached the tragic power of Dowland's darkest songs in his "Grief, keep within." A colleague of Shakespeare and Ben Jonson, Johnson was a pioneer in creating music for the rich theatrical life of Elizabethan and Jacobean London.
Contrasting with this 400-year-old music is Nico Muhly's 2013 lute song, "Old Bones," which nevertheless harkens back to English history in its meditation on the life and death of King Richard III, slain on Bosworth Field in 1485. Muhly's extended song takes an unusually compassionate stance toward this Shakespearean villain cursed with a hunchback.
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