Iestyn Davies / Thomas Dunford

The Art of Melancholy: Songs by John Dowland

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AllMusic Review by

Countertenor Iestyn Davies has kept himself busy, releasing a steady stream of albums in the early 2010s that has propelled him to the top of his field. It's easy to see why people keep snapping them up: Davies has an unusually creamy voice and a gentle touch that make the music easy to settle into. The lute songs of John Dowland demand something more than a pleasant tone, however, and on this release Davies really shows what he can do. He's aided by an ideal collaborator in lutenist Thomas Dunford, and the delicacy and intricate ensemble of the pair is remarkable. The advertised melancholy builds to something of a climax about two-thirds of the way through, with the lute solo Lachrimae and the vocal pieces surrounding it, and rises emotionally again with the famous Come, heavy sleep (track 19). In these stretches Davies advances definitively from being another pretty voice to major-artist status. The Hyperion engineering team outdoes itself at Suffolk's ideal Potton Hall, capturing the deep spaces of this music whose essence is captured by the title of a much later composition, Music That Has Fallen Silent.

Track Listing

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time
1 3:08
2 4:15
3 3:18
4 0:48
5 5:42
6 4:45
7 2:23
8 3:03
9 7:01
10 3:52
11 4:04
12 4:28
13 2:00
14 5:37
15 2:04
16 2:00
17 4:53
18 2:47
19 3:55
20 6:18
blue highlight denotes track pick