Dowland & Britten: Melancholy, Nocturnal

Dowland & Britten: Melancholy, Nocturnal
Composer Benjamin Britten, John Dowland
Artist Pascal Boëls guitar
Format 1 CD
Cat. number 97013
EAN code 5028421970134
Release October 2023

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About this release

Pavans and galliards by the Elizabethan master of melancholy, complemented by a new recording of Benjamin Britten’s magnificent Nocturnal inspired by both Dowland’s music and by the playing of Julian Bream.

After the success of ‘The Golden Age of the Guitar in Europe’ (2CD, 96157), Brilliant Classics releases a second album by the French guitarist Pascal Boëls, a unique collection of music by 17th and 20th-century English masters. In a booklet introduction, the guitarist explains how he sees Dowland as ‘a universal genius, eternal wanderer who – already! – knew how to rub shoulders with all facets of the human soul.’

Pascal Boëls plays a personal selection of Dowland’s piece originally written for solo lute, pieces which embody a spirit of introversion such as the ‘Forlorn Hope’ Fancy and the ‘Lachrymae’ Pavan which became famous across Europe, much imitated and adapted by other composers of the day. Lightening the mood are also the kind of courtly dances and romances which delighted the composer’s aristocratic patrons such as the Earl of Essex and King Christian of Denmark.

The English guitarist Julian Bream played Dowland’s pieces on the guitar from an early stage of his career, and made a best-selling album of them for RCA. It was this antique palette of gentle, musing expression that inspired Benjamin Britten to write a Nocturnal for guitar which builds as a sequence of eight variations towards (rather than away from) the Dowland song on which they are based. The resulting work, according to Bream, was the greatest solo work ever written for guitar, exploring a slippage between wakeful and dream states with a subtle ambiguity between major and minor harmonies and a language that bridges the divide between the 17th and 20th centuries.

- John Dowland is without doubt one of the most famous English composers, the foremost exponent of the Golden Age of the Elizabethan Era of the 16th and 17th Century.
- Dowland’s works fully reflect the spirit and tastes of the Elizabethan age, with their tendency towards deep melancholy and their pronounced focus on darkness, moonlight and night-time. Despite the predominance of grief, sadness, tears and death there are also works in which a sense of optimism, lightness and joy prevail.
- This new recording presents a selection of famous and favourite lute works by Dowland, played on guitar: Lachrimae, Lady Hunsdon’s Puffe, The Most Sacred Queen Elizabeth, her Galliard, Mignarda, Dowland’s Galliard and many more.
- As a fitting addition and tribute Pascal Boëls plays the homage to Dowland by Benjamin Britten, titled “Nocturnal” after John Dowland.
- Played by Pascal Boëls, who is regarded as one of the best current specialists of the ten-string guitar, with the extension of the bass notes which permits an exact fidelity to the musical text.

Track list

Disk 1

  1. John Dowland: A Fantasie [P1a]
  2. John Dowland: The Most High and Mighty Christianus the Fourth, King of Denmark, His Galliard [P40]
  3. John Dowland: Melancholy Galliard [P25]
  4. John Dowland: Lady Hunsdon’s Puffe [P54]
  5. John Dowland: Captain Digorie Piper’s Galliard [P19]
  6. John Dowland: Forlorn Hope Fancy [P2]
  7. John Dowland: The Right Honourable Ferdinando Earl of Derby, His Galliard [P44a]
  8. John Dowland: The Most Sacred Queen Elizabeth, Her Galliard [P41]
  9. John Dowland: A Fancy [P6]
  10. John Dowland: The Right Honourable Earl of Essex, His Galliard [P42a]
  11. John Dowland: Tarleton’s Riserrectione [P59]
  12. John Dowland: Dowland’s First Galliard [P22]
  13. John Dowland: A Fancy [P73]
  14. John Dowland: Fortune [P62]
  15. John Dowland: My Lord Willoughby’s Welcome Home [P66a]
  16. John Dowland: Mignarda [P34]
  17. John Dowland: A Fancy [P5]
  18. John Dowland: Mr. Dowland’s Midnight [P99]
  19. John Dowland: Lachrimæ [P15]
  20. Benjamin Britten: Nocturnal after John Dowland, Op. 70: I. Musingly
  21. Benjamin Britten: Nocturnal after John Dowland, Op. 70: II. Very agitated
  22. Benjamin Britten: Nocturnal after John Dowland, Op. 70: III. Restless
  23. Benjamin Britten: Nocturnal after John Dowland, Op. 70: IV. Uneasy
  24. Benjamin Britten: Nocturnal after John Dowland, Op. 70: V. March-like
  25. Benjamin Britten: Nocturnal after John Dowland, Op. 70: VI. Dreaming
  26. Benjamin Britten: Nocturnal after John Dowland, Op. 70: VII. Gently rocking
  27. Benjamin Britten: Nocturnal after John Dowland, Op. 70: VIII. Passacaglia