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Track(s) taken from CDA67648

Now, oh now I needs must part

1597; A Firste Booke of Songes or Ayres; tune from The Frogs Galliard
author of text

Mark Padmore (tenor), Elizabeth Kenny (lute)
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: 6 minutes 12 seconds

Cover artwork: Disappointed Love (1821) by Francis Danby (1793-1861)
Victoria & Albert Museum, London / Bridgeman Art Library, London

Other recordings available for download

Ian Partridge (tenor), Jakob Lindberg (lute)
The Camerata of London
James Bowman (countertenor), David Miller (lute)


'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)
Sometimes there is a tension between words and music that disrupts the ‘perfect balance’ for which lute-song composers are famous. This must have been deliberate. Now, O now, I needs must part is a good example. Few at the time, and certainly no one now, could say for certain whether there was any love involved in the duc d’Alençon’s unsuccessful suit of Elizabeth I. The Frog Galliard was associated with d’Alençon’s departure, and Now, O now put words to the tune. Elizabeth’s letters show that he wasn’t entirely convinced about her age. She disliked his pockmarked appearance; and they both felt aggrieved that the blandishments of love hadn’t produced enough hard cash to cement a marriage settlement. The jaunty triple metre may be intended to parody the supposed lovers’ sense of their own tragic misfortune or to reflect a courtship that had become something of a public farce, but the words and the nostalgia of the setting are unexpectedly moving.

from notes by Elizabeth Kenny © 2008

Parfois, une tension entre les mots et la musique vient perturber le «parfait équilibre» qui fonde la réputation des compositeurs de lute-songs. Mais cette tension devait être voulue, comme l’illustre bien Now, O now, I needs must part. Peu de personnes savaient à l’époque—et plus personne ne sait avec certitude aujourd’hui—si un quelconque amour animait la cour malheureuse du duc d’Alençon auprès d’Élisabeth Ière. La Frog Galliard était associée au départ de d’Alençon et Now, O now mit des paroles sur cet air. Les lettres d’Élisabeth révèlent que le duc doutait un peu de l’âge de la souveraine, laquelle n’appréciait pas son aspect variolé. Tous deux se sentirent chagrinés de ce que les cajoleries de l’amour n’eussent pas suffi à sceller un contrat de mariage. L’allègre mètre ternaire veut peut-être parodier le sentiment que ces amants supposés ont de leur propre infortune tragique ou bien refléter une cour qui tient un peu de la farce publique. Pourtant, les mots et la nostalgie de la mise en musique dégagent une émotion étonnante.

extrait des notes rédigées par Elizabeth Kenny © 2008
Français: Hypérion

Manchmal gibt es eine Spannung zwischen den Worten und der Musik, wodurch die „perfekte Balance“ zerbricht, für die die Lautenliederkomponisten so berühmt sind. Das muss absichtlich geschehen sein. Now, O now, I needs must part („Nun, ach nun, muss ich von dannen“) ist ein gutes Beispiel. Nur wenige zu jener Zeit, und gewiss keiner heutzutage, können mit Sicherheit sagen, ob im erfolglosen Werben des Herzogs von Alençon um Elisabeth I. Liebe mit im Spiel war. Die Frog Galliard („Froschgaillarde“) wurde mit der Abreise des Herzogs in Verbindung gebracht, und Now, O now legt der Melodie Worte unter. Elisabeths Briefe zeigen, dass er von ihrem Alter nicht ganz überzeugt war. Sie mochte seine Blatternarben nicht, und beide waren sie enttäuscht, dass die Schmeicheleien der Liebe nicht genug klingende Münzen hervorgebracht hatten, um ihre Eheschließung durchzusetzen. Der beschwingte Dreiertakt diente vielleicht zur Parodierung des Gefühls der vermeintlich Liebenden von ihrem eigenen tragischen Unglück. Eventuell sollte die Taktart auch das Werben darstellen, das sich mittlerweile zu einer gewissen öffentlichen Farce entwickelt hatte. Die Worte und Nostalgie der Vertonung sind aber unerwartet ergreifend.

aus dem Begleittext von Elizabeth Kenny © 2008
Deutsch: Elke Hockings

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