Norwegian Baroque Orchestra - John Dowland: Lachrimae - The Daily Telegraph
01 September 2003The Daily Telegraph
This disc is a masterpiece of programme-planning. Whether or not Dowland intended his Seven Passionate Pavans to be performed at one sitting, its succession of slow consort pieces, all in the same key and based on similar thematic material, does not necessarily appeal to today's audiences. However, by alternating the pavans with suitably lachrimose lute songs, Rolf Lislevand has created a musically and intellectually coherent sequence that maintains the melancholy mood of the pavans and yet contains just enough variety to make thoroughly satisfying listening.
Bringing singer and string players together to end the programme with a wonderfully expressive repeat of the opening Lachrimae Antique in its alternative version as the song Flow My Tears is a particularly effective touch.
The Norsk barokkorkester's beautifully shaped and crisply articulated performances make an excellent case for following Dowland's own suggestion and performing the Lachrimae in violins rather than viols, and Randi Stene, whose voice sometimes takes on an appropriately countertenorish quality, projects her words with admirable clarity and understanding.
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