Dowland: Complete Lute Music Box set
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One of the great Elizabethan masters of the lute also was the period's most celebrated composer for the instrument. Four centuries later, a fellow Englishman-Nigel North-became the leading interpreter of Dowland's beautiful, melancholy creations. This set begins with the Fantasies (or Fancyes ), which match melody with improvisation. Next come the pavans including the most famous of its time, the Lachrimae Pavan . Disc three explores the principal dances of the era: pavans, galliards and almains . Go from My Window; Walsingham , and more dances and songs complete this tribute to the English Orpheus!
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He's known primarily today for his melancholy songs, most of which were written and performed with lute accompaniment. Some of these he eventually turned into solo lute songs. Don't let that fool you into thinking that he couldn't write a happy tune, though, because the first song on the first disc of this CD comes right out of the gate with some excitement and joy, though he was the master of the slow thoughtful melody. This set includes all of his solo lute music. 95% of these songs are dance forms. Galliards, Pavanes, Almains (Allemandes), and a couple marches are all included as well as his 7 fantasies and solo lute songs.
This music is not harmonically complex in the way that Brahms was. This is Renaissance music, it has a flow directed more by the line of the melody than the harmony supporting it. Do not get this if you're expecting to hear a Mahler symphony on the lute. This music is perfect though for those who love nothing more than listening to Bach's solo violin or cello works. Perfect for the person who loves to sit and listen to traditional folk dance music on a guitar, banjo or fiddle. These forms were almost all originally dance forms and on these CDs their origins are clear, if they tend to be slower dances.
Nigel North is easily one of the world's best lutenists today. These performances are fantastic and do great justice to Dowland's music. Dowland was the peak of talent in his time, and I wouldn't be surprised if North is better than he was. You hear the music on these discs, and little if any extraneous noise that you sometimes hear on solo guitar work (I'd describe it better, except that I don't play a stringed instrument). He plays a period lute constructed exactly after the ones of Dowland's time and performs with period appropriate embellishments and style. For Dowland's music, there isn't any other request I could make. I haven't stopped listening to these CDs since I bought them a couple of weeks ago, and these aren't the only CDs of his I own.
Feel free to look through the other reviews of these CDs as individually sold, last I looked every single review was a 5 star review. They are all well deserved. Also, speaking financially, you should purchase this set. NAXOS is a great label for cheap CDs, they tend to hover around $8 - $12 for single CDs, and when you've got these four discs for under $20, it's a deal. On a personal note, I find this music to be extremely relaxing and a great listen after a hard day's work.
***Edit: Whatever the price is currently for this set, it was under $20 when I purchased it.
String virtuoso Nigel North performs on instruments tuned to A = 392; 400; 415; and 440.
Good sound from producer, engineer, and editor Norbert Kraft.
Four CDs in individual jewel boxes with cardboard box.
I first listened to Nigel North a few years back on one of his other recordings offered here of Bach. It is excellent indeed.
I also fint this 4 disk set very appealing, relaxing, and rewarding. The recording is clean and clear as is the playing. The music is relaxing and good for the soul, at least for me.
This collection is a very good value as well!