Julian Bream plays Dowland and Bach

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COMPOSERS: Dowland,JS Bach
LABELS: DG
ALBUM TITLE: Julian Bream plays Dowland and Bach
WORKS: Works by Dowland and JS Bach
PERFORMER: Julian Bream (lute & guitar);
The Golden Age Singers/
Margaret Field-Hyde
CATALOGUE NO: 477 7550 Reissue (1956)

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Two national treasures are rightly celebrated here. If you have RCA’s colossal Bream Edition and the superb DVD My Life in Music, you’ll still need these 1950s Westminster recordings: they combine Bream’s special intensity with the freshness of a new-found passion for Dowland, whose lute music he’d recently discovered. Bream’s Bach (on the guitar), >is impressive too, the Chaconne poetic and inward where his 1992 EMI version is dramatic and rhetorical; the selection of works from 1956, though, is undoubtedly more bitty. What makes this reissue really indispensable is DG’s inspired decision to add 20 Dowland Ayres, in which Bream partnered Margaret Field-Hyde’s wonderful, unjustly forgotten Golden Age Singers. Full-on vibrato, rare blemishes and cut stanzas (no texts, either) are irrelevant, alongside such exemplary diction (greatly helped by Westminster’s excellent sound, well remastered) and a sincerity which qualifies as true ‘original mastery’. Tully Potter’s fascinating booklet note is one of the best I’ve read. Nick Morgan