For this 2013 Alpha Productions release, lutenist Thomas Dunford presents a balanced program of solo pieces and lute songs by Elizabethan composer John Dowland. Joined by a quartet consisting of soprano Ruby Hughes, tenors Reinoud Van Mechelen and Paul Agnew, and bass Alain Buet, Dunford plays accompaniment on the famous songs Come again, I saw my Lady weepe, Flow my teares, Sorrow stay, Can she excuse, Go crystal teares, and Now, O now I needs must depart, a representative selection of Dowland's finest work. Dunford also performs a number of instrumental character pieces, which include Semper Dowland, semper Dolens (titled after the composer's punning motto), the Mellancoly Galliard, and Lachrimae, the latter a fantasy on Flow my teares and the inspiration for other compositions on that theme. Melancholia was cultivated as a fashion by Elizabethan poets and composers, but no one identified more personally with it than Dowland, for whom the emotion was much more than an affectation. Yet this album is far from gloomy, because the performers are transparent in tone and pleasantly expressive in delivery, and they give the songs a clarity that somewhat alleviates their darker moods. Throughout the album, Dunford maintains a consistently high quality of musicianship, and while he modestly shares the spotlight with the singers, this is clearly his labor of love.
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AllMusic Review by Blair Sanderson