The songs of John Dowland are dominated by melancholia, a characteristic the composer consciously promoted, even in his personal motto, Semper Dowland, semper dolens. Sorrow is therefore the dominant tone of Dominique Visse's 2012 album, Tunes of Sad Despaire, which includes the source melody of the famous Lachrymae antiquae, Flow my teares, along with 16 other Dowland selections that show his fairly narrow range of moods and the stylistic affectation so dear to the Elizabethan era. Visse's somber countertenor and Fretwork's lute and viols accompaniment present the music with the appropriate heaviness of emotion, and Visse is joined by bass Renaud Delaigue in three of the songs, If my complaints, Flow my teares, and Come, heauy sleepe. The weight of the album's grief is only slightly alleviated by the instrumental Paduan, and the songs Fine Knacks for Ladies, and Away with these selfe louing lads, which lend some liveliness. However, listeners should be prepared for the gloominess of the disc, which can be a bit overwhelming if heard in one sitting.
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AllMusic Review by Blair Sanderson