Hyperion Records

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

'Dowland: Lute Songs; Britten: Nocturnal' (CDA67648)
Dowland: Lute Songs; Britten: Nocturnal
Movement 1: Musingly: Meditativo
Movement 2: Very agitated: Molto agitato
Movement 3: Restless: Inquieto
Movement 4: Uneasy: Ansioso
Movement 5: March-like: Quasi una marcia
Movement 6: Dreaming: Sognante
Movement 7: Gently rocking: Cullante
Movement 8: Passacaglia: Measured (Misurato) – Slow and quiet (Molto tranquillo)

Nocturnal after John Dowland, Op 70
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

Track-specific metadata
Click track numbers opposite to select

Details for CDA67648 track 13
March-like: Quasi una marcia
Recording date
7 February 2007
Recording venue
All Saints' Church, East Finchley, London, United Kingdom
Recording producer
Mark Brown
Recording engineer
Julian Millard
Hyperion usage
  1. Dowland: Lute Songs; Britten: Nocturnal (CDA67648)
    Disc 1 Track 13
    Release date: January 2008
   English   Français   Deutsch