With Endless Tears

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3.0 out of 5 star rating 3.0

COMPOSERS: Humfrey,J Gautier,Johnson,Lanier,Lawes & Purcell
LABELS: Channel
WORKS: Vocal Works by J Gautier, Humfrey, Johnson, Lanier, Lawes & Purcell
PERFORMER: Johannette Zomer (soprano), Fred Jacobs (Lute and Theorbo)


 The latest collaboration between Johannette Zomer and Fred Jacobs is devoted to 17th-century England and traces a path from court lutenist Robert Johnson to the presiding genius of the age Henry Purcell. 

The journey takes in Nicholas Lanier (whose picture-buying excursions to Italy acquainted him with the latest thoughts of Monteverdi and d’India), prolific songsmith Henry Lawes (his substantial setting of Ariadne’s Lament no match for Monteverdi but well worth a hearing), and emerges post-Restoration into the company of Purcell’s teacher Pelham Humfrey – four of whose songs encourage a more dramatic Zomer than glimpsed hitherto. 

There’s a brightness to the voice which pinpoints open-eyed wonder in songs such as Johnson’s ‘Have you seen but the bright lily grow?’, but the darker colours implied by the disc’s title prove more elusive. Lawes’s Ariadne cries out for greater expressive extremes, and the chill factor is in short supply in his ‘Sleep soft, you cold clay cinders’.


That Zomer knows how to float a line and respond to its musical contours is never in doubt – as an elegantly-turned ‘Music for a while’ insists – but she doesn’t always inhabit the words with a sureness of touch. The erotic charge of Lanier’s ‘Mark how the blushful morn’ is as chaste as an Ave Maria! Paul Riley