The title Flow my tears, taken from John Dowland's quintessential melancholy song of the Elizabethan era, leads one to expect a collection of Renaissance lute songs that's like so many others out there. In fact, British countertenor Iestyn Davies, a somewhat underrated figure in an era of flashy countertenor stars, delivers a program that's well above average, recorded live at London's Wigmore Hall in 2013 and impressively free of extraneous noise made by either the performers or the audience. Start with American composer Nico Muhly's rather unlikely Old Bones, which mixes news accounts of the discovery of the bones of Richard III with bits of poetry praising the man thought to have killed him, and fits the whole thing into a reasonable replica of the form of the longer lute songs. It has no right to work as well as it does -- Richard III was nowhere near Dowland and John Danyel chronologically -- but you are unlikely to find another contemporary composition in any style or genre that gets the sustained applause this one does. Davies varies his program with unusual music like the pungent short pieces by Danyel and the instrumental airs by Tobias Hume, and he articulates all the texts clearly and revels in their expression. A superior Renaissance song release.
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AllMusic Review by James Manheim
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