ALBUM TITLE: Collection: A Musicall Banquet 1610
PERFORMER: Andreas Scholl (countertenor), Edin Karamazov (lutes, guitar), Markus Märkl (hpschord), Christophe Coin (bass viol)
CATALOGUE NO: 466 917-2
Although, as a composer, Robert Dowland was no match for John Dowland, his father, he did a service to posterity in collating two musical anthologies, Varietie of Lute-Lessons, and A Musicall Banquet recorded here. This vignette of contemporary taste includes music from France, Italy and Spain as well as England.
Scholl sets himself a tough challenge, a single voice presenting 20 brief songs relieved by a lute solo halfway through. Though he never loses the cuttingly fine focus and impeccable tuning which has become so deservedly familiar, he generates a wide range of tone and passion. At one extreme are the Deller-ish portamenti and sorrow-laden vowels of two opening English songs. By the third, Dowland père’s ‘In darkness let me dwell’, the bitterly cold opening develops into impressively ‘hellish jarring sounds’ – a huge emotional range, if at times taken to extremes: Caccini’s ‘Amarilli’ varies wildly in pace. The instrumentalists, especially Karamazov, also grasp the tenor of words passionately in expressive partnership with Scholl, while the variety of plucked strings and some attractive chordal continuo from bass viol extend the range of textures and timbres.
Enjoyable, often inspired, though not eclipsing The Consort of Musicke’s recording all of 23 years ago. George Pratt