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Dowland: Melancholy; Britten: Nocturnal

Dowland: Melancholy; Britten: Nocturnal

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Pavans and galliards by the Elizabethan master of melancholy, complemented by a new recording of Benjamin Britten’s magnificent Nocturnal inspired by both Dowland’s music and by the playing of Julian Bream. After the success of ‘The Golden Age of the Guitar in Europe’ (2CD, 96157), Brilliant Classics releases a second album by the French guitarist Pascal Boëls, a unique collection of music by 17th and 20th-century English masters. In a booklet introduction, the guitarist explains how he sees Dowland as ‘a universal genius, eternal wanderer who – already! – knew how to rub shoulders with all facets of the human soul.’ Pascal Boëls plays a personal selection of Dowland’s piece originally written for solo lute, pieces which embody a spirit of introversion such as the ‘Forlorn Hope’ Fancy and the ‘Lachrymae’ Pavan which became famous across Europe, much imitated and adapted by other composers of the day. Lightening the mood are also the kind of courtly dances and romances which delighted the composer’s aristocratic patrons such as the Earl of Essex and King Christian of Denmark. The English guitarist Julian Bream played Dowland’s pieces on the guitar from an early stage of his career, and made a best-selling album of them for RCA. It was this antique palette of gentle, musing expression that inspired Benjamin Britten to write a Nocturnal for guitar which builds as a sequence of eight variations towards (rather than away from) the Dowland song on which they are based. The resulting work, according to Bream, was the greatest solo work ever written for guitar, exploring a slippage between wakeful and dream states with a subtle ambiguity between major and minor harmonies and a language that bridges the divide between the 17th and 20th centuries.

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    • Number of Discs: 1
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    • Label: Brilliant Classics
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