Dowland’s Lachrimae 1604
John DOWLAND: Lachrimae 1604. Philomusica of London, Thurston Dart (hpsi, dir.). Discover Classical Music SP1677 (http://salandpublishing.moonfruit.com/#/discover-classical-music/4538566616). Bought from Amazon.
Dart’s pioneering recording of Dowland’s 21 consort pieces deserves better than a lowly CD-R, but I’m still glad to have it. First a mono L’Oiseau-Lyre in 1958 (OL50163), it came out in fake stereo 15 years later. The expected modern instruments are less vexing than their sizable number — a pity, for Dart understood how this music works. He puts a galliard after each of the seven Lachrimae pavans. I’d rather hear these seven in a row, to study their intricate relationships, but it’s all right (Dowland didn’t specify a sequence).
I recognized this music by peering behind or through the robust string-orchestra textures. Dart’s tempos are a little fast (57:32 to Fretwork’s 60:03), but the dances certainly have a pulse. The pavans come off less well — cousins to Barber’s Adagio for Strings. Hearing, say, Mrs. Nichols Almand inflated to this degree feels very odd and wrong.
Insert and traycard advertise the label; disc details may be found on its website. The titles are laid out on only three tracks: 1-11 (28:04), 12-14 (8:29) and 15-21 (20:59). Here’s the order (info from MusicWeb’s review):
Sound isn’t as bad as I feared (the album is also sold in MP3 format). Slight surface noise and some imperfections mark the source as a decently preserved LP.
In 1976 Rooley / The Consort of Musicke taped it using the composer’s original specs — five viols plus lute (CD 6 in Decca’s Dowland box). They played the seven pavans at the start and substituted violins on top (an option) for the rest. It has worn well, but Fretwork and Savall / Hespèrion XX penetrate more deeply (good luck chasing the latter!). BIS has never culled their catalog, and Lindberg / The Dowland Consort’s 1985 CD is easy to get and perceptive.
Lachrimae 1604 is the earliest instrumental cycle with a current following. It began here.
[More Walt Mundkowsky]