Dowland: Mrs Winter’s Jump; The Shoemaker’s Wife; The Frog Galliard; Mr John Langton’s Pavan

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4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0

COMPOSERS: Dowland
LABELS: Glossa
WORKS: Mrs Winter’s Jump; The Shoemaker’s Wife; The Frog Galliard; Mr John Langton’s Pavan
PERFORMER: José Miguel Moreno (lute)Eligio Quinteiro (theorbo, gittern)
CATALOGUE NO: GCD 920109
José Miguel Moreno and Eligio Quinteiro have made the somewhat controversial decision to perform Dowland’s solo lute music accompanied by the lustrous-toned theorbo and the distinctive early guitar known as the gittern. Two instruments inevitably produce a richer, more complex texture than unaccompanied lute, and in Dowland’s darker pieces – like the famous Lachrimae – the weightier sound is most effective. But concerns over ensemble occasionally upset the musical flow, and often I would rather hear the lute alone, not least since Moreno plays with such lucidity and a weightless touch that makes even the most intricate passages seem facile. While the disc title and the booklet notes make much of Dowland’s doleful character and early 17th-century melancholia in general, the interpretations are never overly intense or oppressive. Indeed, what makes this set so enjoyable is the prevailing serenity of mood and the airy recorded sound.

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The main rival to Moreno and Quinteira is Paul O’Dette, whose complete Dowland is available on individual discs from Harmonia Mundi. O’Dette plays with greater pizazz and improvisatory freedom but Moreno and Quinteiro’s restrained style has its own particular charm. Kate Bolton