John DOWLAND (1563-1626)
Flow my teares, fall from your springs (1600, arr. David Gorton 2013)* [3:55]
Variations (2014)* [23:58]
Thomas MORLEY (1557/8-1602)
Pavana and Galiarda (c.1590, arr. Gorton 2015)* [6:20]
Forlorn Hope Fancy (c.1590, arr.
Stefan Östersjö 2010)** [3:23]
Forlorn Hope (2011)** [21:31]
John DOWLAND, set William BYRD
(c.1600, arr. Gorton 2013)* [4:04]
Longbow/Peter Sheppard Skærved*
Stefan Östersjö (eleven-string alto guitar)**
rec. All Souls Church, East Finchley, 25 June 2015 (Lachrymae Variations);
Aldbury Parish Church, 16 March 2016 (Dowland, Morley, Dowland/Byrd); and
Malmö Academy of Music, 13–14 August 2015 (Forlorn Hope Fancy, Forlorn
Reviewed as streamed from Qobuz and
Naxos Music Library
and downloaded in 24/96 quality from
eclassical.com. No booklet.
The twentieth century has been dubbed The Age of Anxiety but the
seventeenth runs it pretty close. One of the best sellers of the period was
Richard Burton’s Anatomy of Melancholy, while John Aubrey asserts in
the introduction to his Brief Lives that he was melancholy in the
womb. At the beginning of the century John Dowland made melancholy his
musical calling card, famously playing on his name in one piece: Semper Dowland semper dolens – Dowland always lamenting.
Dowland’s most famous instrumental piece is the pavan called Lachrymæ, tears, which was arranged and imitated by several
contemporaries and which he worked into a set of variations: Lachrimæ or Seaven Teares. The most recent recording of these and
one of the best comes from Phantasm and Elizabeth Kenny on Linn CKD527.
You’ll find details about the music and some other very fine performances
and that of
The Toccata recording is topped and tailed with arrangements of the Lachrymæ theme, first as it was worked into the song Flow my teares and finally as it first appeared in the original
pavan. These are comparatively straight arrangements as are those of the
Morley pavan and galiard and the Forlorn Hope Fancy, the latter
performed on an 11-string guitar, sounding not unlike the lute or theorbo.
David Gorton’s set of variations, like Dowland’s, falls into seven
sections. It too begins with a fairly straight statement of the theme but
even here there are hints of more advanced things to come and as the piece
progresses the anxiety of four hundred years ago begins to relate more and
more to its present-day equivalent.
At this point I sense those of an ultra-conservative musical disposition
beginning to think that this may not be for them. I urge them at least to
listen to the music, either from the previews variously available online
or, preferably, to the complete work as available for streaming from
Naxos Music Library
or Qobuz. I
can assure them, however, that there’s nothing to become alarmed about: I
enjoyed the work and I’m not exactly a friend of the avant-garde. If
anything, Benjamin Britten’s Lachrymae, Op.48, is a tougher work,
whether in its original viola and piano form or in the orchestral
arrangement. (Linn CKD478 –
– or Chandos CHAN10671: Recording of the Month –
review). Dowland’s original must in many ways have been at least as hard to
absorb for his contemporaries.
The variations on Forlorn Hope, played on the 11-string guitar are
much harder to take, with rather more crashes and bangs that take us
further away from the original and I’m afraid that I missed the references
to contemporary politicians. Here I do recommend the timorous to sample
before-hand or to be prepared to take this tougher piece for the sake of
the rest. I’m afraid that I must report a similar reaction to the only
other album of David Gorton’s music that I’ve heard: Orfordness and
other works on Divine Art Métier MSV28550 –
– much as I applaud the entrepreneurism of Toccata and Divine Art in making
such music available.
The performances of the string pieces by Longbow and of the guitar pieces
by Stefan Östersjö make a very good case for the music, none of it easier
to play than it is to absorb. The recording is good, too, and the notes are
helpful and informative. They were not initially available from any of the
streaming or downloading sites: I’m grateful to Martin Anderson of Toccata
for supplying them in pdf format.
I’ve only just caught up with another Toccata enterprise, the neglected
music of Charles O’Brien. Volume 3 – review pending – offers the shorter
version of the Ellangowan Overture, Op.10, with the Waltz Suite,
Op.26 and Suite Humoristique, Op.8 (TOCC0299). Like the earlier
volumes (TOCC0262 –
– and TOCC0263 –
review) it’s well performed by the Liepāja Symphony Orchestra conducted by Paul
Mann and it should warm the cockles of the hearts of traditionalists not
yet ready for Gorton’s music. The overture should appeal to lovers of
Bruch’s Scottish Fantasy, Mendelssohn’s Scottish Symphony, or, especially,
Hamish MacCunn’s Land of the Mountain and Flood.
For me Gorton’s Dowland-inspired programme offers a recording of two
halves, well worth considering for the more approachable of them. Hearing
the streamed version was at least persuasive enough to prompt me to
download the 24-bit version from eclassical.com.
John DOWLAND (1563-1626)
arr. David GORTON (b.1978) Flow my teares;
Pavana Lachrymæ; David GORTON
Forlorn Hope - Longbow/Peter Sheppard Skærved; Stefan Östersjö (guitar)
A recording of two halves, well worth considering for the more
approachable of them.