Although there has never been a lack of composers willing to plumb the depths of despair, among the composers found deepest in the depths is the always doleful John Dowland. But while so many of his songs seem to have the last word in desolation, his deepest, darkest, and most desolate music is no doubt his collection called Lachrimae or Seaven Teares figured in Seaven Passionate Pauans...set forth for the Lute, Viols, or Violons.... Taking the Lachrimae Antuquae as his theme, Dowland alternates between the gloom of variations on the Lachrimae and the doom of the transcriptions of the galiards, pagans, and almands as he traces his way to death.
Although there has never been a lack of performers willing to plumb the depths of Dowland's despair, among the performers deepest in the depths is Jordi Savall. With his history of exploring the despair of composers from Sainte-Colombe to Bach, Savall and his fellow members of Hesperion XX, the crackerjack violists of Spain who have found new depths of meaning for the word doleful. In this magnificently melancholy recording from 1988, Savall and Hesperion XX perform with a concentration and an intensity that burn Dowland's despair deep into the hearts and souls of listeners, making overwhelming music of Dowland's melancholy art.