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Hyperion Records

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Disappointed Love (1821) by Francis Danby (1793-1861)
Victoria & Albert Museum, London / Bridgeman Art Library, London
Track(s) taken from CDA67648
Recording details: February 2007
All Saints' Church, East Finchley, London, United Kingdom
Produced by Mark Brown
Engineered by Julian Millard
Release date: January 2008
Total duration: 17 minutes 45 seconds

'This fascinating release does more than raise the standard of Dowland interpretation yet another notch: it also helps to contextualise the composer in relation to both his own time and ours … Mark Padmore again shows why he is one of today's finest tenors. The quicker songs, like Away with these self-loving lads, gain in clarity from a semi-declamatory approach, while the slower are eerily viol-like. The interpretations are restrained yet intense. Elizabeth Kenny's lute caresses the vocal line, embellishments, colour changes and rhythmic pointing never retarding the flow' (Gramophone)

'Flow, my tears is beautifully inflected, though finer still is In darkness let me dwell, where in the final bars Padmore's enrapt engagement seems to conjure up the very chill of death … with Elizabeth Kenny's insightful support, there is an involvement which even surpasses Paul Agnew's superb Dowland recordings of a decade ago' (BBC Music Magazine)

'The opening Unquiet thoughts introduces the clarity and lightness, as well as the dynamic chading and delicate ornamentation on repeated phrases which are a feature of all that follows … engagingly written booklet notes by Kenny and a fine recorded sound provide just two more reasons to recommed this as one of the best Dowland recitals on disc to come our way in a long time' (International Record Review)

'Since Emma Kirkby's first recording in the late-1970s, we have known what to expect from Dowland's lute songs. Some fine discs have followed, but not until Mark Padmore and Elizabeth Kenny's new release has there been one as radical in its potential impact on our understanding of the music. With tonal purity intact, voice and lute add subtle decoration, rhythmic fluidity, drama and rich poetic sensibility to these songs, using Craig Ogden's expressive performance of Britten's 'Nocturnal' as their foil. Odd to hail 'Come again' as the highlight, but the vivid reading of this ostensibly simple song is a revelation' (The Independent on Sunday)

'The lyrical tone, immaculate diction and musicianship of Britain's finest tenor … he makes the strongest possible case for regarding Dowland as the father of English song with his expressive, deeply-felt accounts of some of the best-known numbers … Kenny's authoritative booklet notes puts the songs into a fascinating historical context' (The Sunday Times)

'Padmore is wonderfully expressive in Flow, my tears, which he embellishes fluently. Britten's dreamy guitar solo Nocturnal after John Dowland is sandwiched between the songs and exquisitely played by Craig Ogden' (Classic FM Magazine)

'Padmore sounds genial, worldly, relaxed. He can be touchingly tender at times: he has an affecting vibrato, which he uses effectively … his voice is full, his enunciation clear' (Fanfare, USA)

'A good singer of lute-song repertoire needs refined poetic understanding, a clear voice … and an especially supple and easy top range. A real master also has the ability to bring special insight to those songs that often seem simple or repetitive. On an even higher level is Mark Padmore, who does all this with a winning spontaneity that makes even Dowland chestnuts sound fresh and true … he has a lovely way of sculpting a phrase … his voice can dip and soar with astonishing beauty and drama' (Opera News)

'A simply brilliant disc. I can't praise it enough. A bronze Liz Kenny should be on the empty plinth in Trafalgar Square, in my opinion' (Early Music)

'Exquisite diction, studied and pure pronunciation, warm and burnished vocal tone, endless breath support. The incredibly long note at the end of Sorrow, stay will take your breath away, although Padmore sounds like he had some left over. Elizabeth Kenny, a distinguished lutenist is a sensitive partner, allowing Padmore to anchor the ends of phrases, add rhythmic touches to important words, and treat repeated phrases with an eye toward variation … the warm sound, captured in London's All Saints Church, renders the fragility of the genre, music that is meant to be heard from as close as possible, without introducing too much distracting detail' (IonArts.com)

'Having displayed Handelian virtuosity in his highly acclaimed solo release of last year, Padmore brings a more focused drama to his performance here. Kenny's sparse and precise accompaniment allows him to explore his voice as an instrument, sometimes mellow and resonant, sometimes cleaner, reedier, but never resorting to the sort of hollow breathiness that can taint exposed recital work. There is a great control of expression and Padmore's sensitive ornamentation makes the music his own—according to the project's theme—without garish disfigurement. The simple cover slip provides lyrics and detailed notes by Kenny, though Padmore's immaculate diction renders the former almost superfluous' (MusicOHM.com)

Nocturnal after John Dowland, Op 70
composer
1963; Reflections on Come, heavy Sleep; first performed on 12 June 1964 by Julian Bream at the Aldeburgh Festival

Uneasy: Ansioso  [1'28]

Introduction  EnglishFrançaisDeutsch
Come, heavy Sleep inspired Britten. Dowland’s song hovers in the shadows between G and B major, exploiting the ambiguity of scale patterns common in English music at this time (neither quite modal nor quite tonal). This perfectly encapsulates the slippage between sleep and death, between rest and disturbance. Britten’s Op 70 Nocturnal, written for Julian Bream to play at the 1964 Aldeburgh Festival, is an extended exploration of tensions and nightmares behind the song tune. The guitar being a much more popular recital instrument at this point, Bream’s advice was not to write the piece for the lute in case it wasn’t played very much. A magnificent Dowland-inspired addition to the guitar repertoire resulted (in a long line of Dowland adaptations, as Britten was well aware), though personally I harbour a few regrets!

from notes by Elizabeth Kenny © 2008

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