Many people consider John Dowland and Henry Purcell to be the finest composers of the solo song in the English language. This program brings together some of their best songs, such as Dowland’s In darkness Let Me Dwell and Purcell’s O Solitude, in a program that has entertained audiences throughout Europe. Chance and Beier can be heard on three CDs published by Stradivarius, the most recent of which, released in 2015, features late works by John Dowland (see CDs).
It was a hot summer day in the Tuscan town of Chiusure. As the afternoon lazily rolled in, we sat down at the town’s only ristorantino. The thick pasta and ample vegetables had given their place to fresh figs, cantuccini and sweet vinsanto when Paul started tuning his beautiful renaissance lute. I sang several madrigals to his delightful playing, and as the afternoon grew more drowsy under the Italian sun, soft accents and warbling passages stole into our music as if to evoke a time long past. And so our first collaboration was born, a programme of Verdelot madrigals printed in an intabulation by Willaert in 1536 and extemporaneously ornamented by Paul and myself. Paul will also play lute music by the incomparable Francesco da Milano.
In the poetry of the madrigals we taste amply of the renaissance idea of “sweet death” in love. And even as the poet’s love dies and is reborn within the poem itself, so are these madrigals, born out of their authors’ passion and made to die away as their melodies and their lutes were forgotten, now given new life.
The famous duets by Georg Philipp Telemann, under the pseudonym Melante, are combined with other great baroque lute duets of the period.