'Rushes of passion' - Early Music Review


When in his programme note Phantasm’s director Laurence Dreyfus describes Dowland’s Lachrimae as ‘the most sensuously tuneful hour of music ever written’ this is no small claim, but at the same time it is hard to contradict. The organic (in another age you could say symphonic) development of motifs, the constant attention to melodic beauty, the stomach-churning harmonic volte faces make the complete publication a masterpiece, a fact of which its composer, who afterwards signed himself as ‘Jo:dolandi de Lachrimae’, was clearly aware. This fine new recording by Phantasm speaks of extensive experience with this repertoire, while the vital contribution of lutenist Elizabeth Kenny is also wonderfully idiomatic. The first work ever published for notated lute and viols, Lachrimae was the father to a whole clutch of worthy offspring. The classic recording of this music is the 1985 account for BIS by The Dowland Consort directed by legendary lutenist Jakob Lindberg, and some direct comparisons are instructive. The earlier recording adopts more measured tempi, particularly in the pavans, taking some eight minutes longer over the complete recording, and this to my ear imbues their interpretation with a timeless magnificence. The Phantasm account is more flexible, with rushes of passion, but with some passages which to my ear are simply rushed.



Jul 2016


D. James Ross

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