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John Dowland's gifts as an exceptional melodist are evident throughout Lachrimae or Seven Tears, an artistic achievement which has cast a remarkable spell on early music.
Summing up the Renaissance preoccupation with melancholy, this extraordinary collection of dance music for viols and lute includes Dowland's 'signature' piece, Semper Dowland semper Dolens. Dowland reveals a personal world of sublime sadness, grief, anger and melancholy mollified by moments of joy and gladness.
A skilled lutenist, Dowland's intricately-worked parts demand perfect synchronicity between Phantasm and Elizabeth Kenny, who rise to the technical and tempi challenges of marrying their instruments.
The popularity of Dowland's music in his own lifetime continued through the centuries with Lawes, Jenkins and Gibbons all paying homage to Dowland's 'Tears'. Although freed from lyric constraints poetic images linger prompting Phantasm's Laurence Dreyfus to describe this as ‘the most sensuously tuneful hour of music ever written'.
5 stars - 'At the heart of this disc are the seven variants of the utterly memorable Lachrimae theme, played by Phantasm with their expressive warmth and exquisite subtlety.' The Observer
5 stars - '...a masterpiece...a valuable addition to our understanding of this remarkable publication, and Dreyfus and Kenny's excellent programme notes give us further valuable players' insights into this extraordinary music.' Early Music Review
5 stars - '...once it grips you, it's unlikely ever to let go, especially in a performance as finely balanced as this.' The Irish Times