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LABELS: Harmonia Mundi
ALBUM TITLE: My Favourite Dowland
WORKS: Semper Dowland, semper dolens; Farewell; La Mia Barbara; Sir John Langton, His Pavin; Walsingham; Lacrimae; Fantasie, P1a etc.
PERFORMER: Paul O’Dette (lute)


Paul O’Dette has lived with the lute music of Dowland for over 40 years, and two decades ago recorded the complete works to widespread acclaim. It’s music through which he’s grown and which has grown in him so that this beautifully assembled anthology isn’t so much a compendium of ‘greatest hits’ (though great it is, and there are hits aplenty); rather it’s a beguiling progress report on O’Dette’s continuing journey. He favours later versions of the works recorded – where possible using those to be found in the collection Dowland’s son Robert published in 1613 – and he plays an 8-course lute after a late 16th-century German model pitched low at A=392 for a mellow gravitas that complements the quality of elevated freedom and spaciousness in the playing itself (Semper Dowland, semper dolens spools out its exquisite melancholy for over seven minutes).

Not that O’Dette short-changes Dowland’s wit or vigour on this intimately recorded disc. The Fantasie, P1a, is full of verve, and the Galliard to Lachrimae is dispatched with such gusto it delivers catharsis after Lachrimae’s grandly sombre inwardness. The Farewell, too, is anchored by an anguished pathos that casts a powerful spell.


Paul Riley