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Baroque English Lute Songs
John Banister, John Blow, Thomas Campion
Baroque English Lute Songs
Genres: Dance & Electronic, Special Interest, Pop, Classical
 
This disc of 30 English lute songs and solos by 10 composers features divine singing from countertenor Robin Blaze and exquisite lute playing from Elizabeth Kenny. The music covers the first century and a half of modern En...  more »

      
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This disc of 30 English lute songs and solos by 10 composers features divine singing from countertenor Robin Blaze and exquisite lute playing from Elizabeth Kenny. The music covers the first century and a half of modern English history--from the artistic flowering, which followed political emancipation from Rome, to the Restoration of the monarchy after which the lute became obsolete (until its revival by bearded Romantics in the 20th century). Some of the tracks are a little labored. The opener, Robert Johnson's "Full Fathom Five" from Shakespeare's "The Tempest," almost grinds to a halt. "Where the Bee Sucks" from the same source is similarly leaden, and Purcell's lute solo on "Lilliburlero" expects no one to dance. On the other hand, the duo's measured approach perfectly suits Dowland's "Time Stands Still," and the same composer's most beautiful song, "In Darkness Let Me Dwell," features the singer's most expressive singing. Blaze's haunting tone is deathly cool. Besides those mentioned, the disc includes songs by Campion, Lawes, Danyel, Reggio, Banister, and Blow. Blaze lights up on Matthew Locke's air, "The Delights of the Bottle," which is the most eccentric track on the album. Of the six tracks by Henry Purcell, "'Tis Nature's Voice" is the most grippingly performed. Blaze moans so vividly that one almost does not know where to look. --Rick Jones
 

CD Reviews

Treasures to be discovered
hcf | 09/11/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)

"As much as I love Robin Blaze, I was a little reluctant to buy this CD, thinking: yet another disc of lute songs? - I already have a dozen. But as soon as I saw the track listing, I had no further doubts. The selection is wonderful. By combining the well known songs such as Dowland's In Darkness Let Me Dwell with the rarely performed songs by Robert Jones, Matthew Locke and John Banister, this disc is sure to satisfy both the connoisseur and the novice. Most of the songs are short - with one short melody following another, 70 minutes seems to fly by in a blink of an eye. Blaze's singing is splendid. His voice, with that inimitable woodwind quality and sweetness, is so good that it would sound good even singing drones, but there is more to it than just the beauty of tone. Blaze shows himself capable of a remarkable range of expression: from flamboyant (e.g., The Delights of the Bottle), to dramatic (e.g., 'Tis Nature's Voice or Why so pale), to lyrical (e.g., In Darkness Let Me Dwell or Can Doleful Notes), to stately (Be Welcome Then, Great Sir). In this regard, the selection here is more balanced that the selection on Daniel Taylor's Tears of the Muse, and the variety works to Blaze's advantage because, comparing the melancholy pieces alone, Taylor comes out a winner (in my opinion, of course). The most magical piece on this disc is Henry Purcell's By Beauteous Softness. "Magical" is the word. There is something about Blaze's singing of Purcell that captures the very essence of Purcell's style. In fact, the best three minutes of countertenor singing I've ever heard in my life was Blaze singing Purcell's Crown the Altar (no, it's not included here - I wish). In sum, this disc is a treasure. -- gggimpy@yahoo.com"