— Early Music Concert Series —
Love songs with lute accompaniment from Elizabethan England.
Sunday 12 February 2017 17:00 — Old Townhall (Crystal hall), Radnická 8, 602 00 Brno, Czech Republic.
The concert ticket gives also admission to Joel Frederiksen’s masterclass The Art of Singing on Saturday 11 February.
|John Dowland (1563 – 1626)||The lowest trees have tops (Third Booke, 1603, XIX)|
|Can she excuse my wrongs (First Booke, 1597, V)|
|The Earl of Essex his Galliard|
|Deare, if you change (First Booke, 1597, VII)|
|Sleep wayward thoughts (First Booke, 1597, XIII)|
|All ye whom Love or Fortune hath betrayed (First Booke, 1597, XIV)|
|My Lord Chamberlaine (His Galliard)|
|Away with these self-loving lads (First Booke, 1597, XXI)|
|Flow my teares (Second Booke, 1600, II)|
|Galliard to Lachrimae (Pilgrimes Solace, 1612, XXII)|
|Fortune, my foe|
|Go from my window|
|John Dowland (1563 – 1626)||Fine Knacks for ladies (Second Booke, 1600, XII)|
|A Fancy (Fantasie 6)|
|Time stands still (Third Booke, 1603, II)|
|When Phœbus first did Daphne love (Third Booke, 1603, VI)|
|In darkness let me dwell (Musical Banquet, 1610, X)|
|Say love if ever thou didst find (Third Booke, 1603, XIII)|
|Tell me true love (Pilgrimes Solace, 1612, VIII)|
Today’s concert is entirely devoted to the works of the English composer John Dowland (1563–1626), an outstanding master of songs and music for the lute, who in his lifetime received perhaps even more recognition on the European continent than at home in Britain. This cannot surprise, because after several unsuccessful attempts to acquire a position at the British Royal Chapel, Dowland applied at other European courts, whence his captivating music spread throughout Europe, also to the Czech Lands.
About Dowland’s life we have only spotty information. A substantial part of his biography is either based on what he wrote about himself in the prefaces to the printed collections of his works or in his private correspondence, or remains in the shadow for lack of sources. The basic outline of his life is scarcely known. He graduated from Oxford University, and although his fame as an excellent lutenist reached the gates of the Royal Palace, he did not receive the vacancy left after the death of the lutenist John Johnson in 1594. He accepted an offer from Duke Henry Julius of Brunswick (1564–1613) and became his court musician. This laid the foundations for Dowland’s Europe-wide fame as the composer, because he did not just reside at the Brunswick court in Wolfenbüttel, but traveled through the countries of Central Europe as well as to France and especially to Italy. Aside from the renowned musical centres of Northern Italy (Venice, Padua, Genoa, Ferrara, Florence), he visited Rome, where he established contact with Luca Marenzio (1553/54–1599), the master of the late madrigal.
Dowland’s German admirers also included Landgrave Moritz of Hesse (1572–1632), himself a very good musician and a remarkable composer, who invited him to his court in Kassel. However, the English composer gave precedence to a position at the court of the music-loving Danish King Christian IV (1577–1648), with whom he remained in service from 1598 till early 1606. Now approaching his fifties, Dowland finally received the long-desired post at the English Royal Chapel in 1612, which he held until the end of his life.
As noted above, John Dowland’s music production is dominated primarily by the human voice and by the lute, one of the most popular instruments of the 16th and early 17th centuries. Its curved body resembling a tortoise shell gave the instrument its Latin name testudo (turtle). Its gut strings are tuned in pairs (“courses”), only the topmost string is single. Most often we meet the 7-course lute tuned in fourths with a third in the middle, similar to the tuning of the viola da gamba, which also will appear in today’s programme. Music for the lute is written in a special notation called tabulature, which does not indicate the sounding pitch (like in the notation for vocal music) but only the fingering.
This concert presents a selection of Dowland’s songs, historically known as Ayres. The composer published four collections; the initial one, The First Booke of Songes or Ayres, published in London in 1597, received considerable acclaim. It was a truly groundbreaking publishing achievement, because its music printing became a model for other collections of this type: the left half of an opening contains the upper part (cantus) and the lute accompaniment in tablature, the right half contains the remaining three vocal parts – alto, tenor and bass – arranged such that you can sing and play with the open book placed on a table and the musicians sitting around it. This offers some varieties: Purely vocal four-part music, with lute accompaniment, or as a solo formed by the voice and the lute, possibly accompanied by the viola da gamba, as shown this afternoon.
Moreover, Dowland gradually rewrote some vocal pieces for solo lute or for viola da gamba ensemble. This is the case with the opening song of this concert, Can she excuse my Wrongs, which underwent both modifications. Conversely, the vocal reworking of the Lachrymae pavan originally written for lute appeared with Dowland’s own text Flow my Teares in the collection The Second Booke of Songs or Ayres, of 2, 4 and 5 parts (London 1600). This song became a sort of a musical signature that later appeared in other compositions by Dowland for viola da gamba ensemble (Lachrimae or Seaven Teares, London 1604) and also inspired imitations by other composers. Dowland’s own reworking for solo lute Galliard to Lachrimae ends the composer’s last collection of songs, A Pilgrime Solace (London 1612). We encounter both originally vocal pieces and instrumental pieces underlaid with text, such as Shall I strive with words to move, whose original version for solo lute was called Mignarde and which subsequently was arranged for viola da gamba ensemble under the name M. Henry Noel His Galliard.
The peak of Dowland’s song writing and undoubtedly one of his most impressive pieces of this kind is In darkness let me dwell from the collection A musicall Banquet (London 1610). It bears testimony of Dowland’s melodic mastery and great receptivity to the character of the sung text. The perfect harmony between these two components suggests, like in the case with Flow my teares, that we here are hearing the composer-poet’s own song text.
The lutenist John Dowland is today represented by instrumental pieces for one or more lutes. The title Frog Gaillard deserves some elaboration. It probably aims at the youngest son of the French King Henry II, Hercules Francis of Anjou (1555–1584), who aspired for the hand of Queen Elizabeth I. It was she who jokingly called him “the frog”. The Frog Galliard is also very close to one of Dowland’s songs, Now, O now I needs must part (First Book of Songes), however, is not clear which of the compositions was the first. Like Flow my teares also this galliard has enjoyed many reworking from the pens of Downland’s contemporaries.
This concert programme presents step for step the various expression possibilities of Dowland’s songs, with love being their common denominator. Besides lots of emotions we can find disappointed aspirations of love and the sadness of separation, but also jokingly moralistic sayings about women’s inconstancy. Thematically Dowland’s works are thus highly contemporary and despite the gap of four centuries their beauty certainly can conquer the heart of today’s listeners.
Joel Frederiksen studied voice and lute in New York and Michigan, where he received his master’s degree, working closely with Early Music specialist Lyle Nordstrom. His wide-ranging basso profundo voice and expressive performances have earned him worldwide acclaim. He has performed with leaders in the early music world including Dame Emma Kirkby, Jordi Savall, Paul O’Dette and Stephen Stubbs, and with the ensembles Musica Fiata, Freiburger Barockorchester, Josquin Capella, Ensemble Gilles Binchois and Huelgas Ensemble. From 1990 to 1999 he was a member of two distinguished ensembles for Early Music in the United States, The Waverly Consort and the Boston Camerata.
For many years Joel Frederiksen has dedicated himself intensively to his speciality, the self-accompanied lute song. After moving to Germany, he established Ensemble Phoenix Munich. Its programs are known for their originality and quality, and have received glowing reviews from the press and generous support from the public. Its debut CD, The Elfin Knight, was released in 2007. The ensemble’s CDs have won high acclaims, such as Stern des Jahres (Münchner Abendzeitung), Orphée d’Or (Académie du Disque Lyrique) or Echo Klassik (Deutsche Phono-Akademie). The CD Rose of Sharon reached the American Billboard Top 10 and the Bestseller List of Amazon.com. Joel is in high demand as singer of oratories and operas, his debut as Seneca in Monteverdi’s L’incoronazione di Poppea in 2016 received exceptional reviews. He regularly gives singing masterclasses and teaches at courses for Early Music. In 2012 his alma mater, Oakland University, honoured him as a Distinguished Alumni.
Ziv Braha started playing electric guitar when he was 14 years old and changed to lute at age 17. In 2000, he completed his studies with Isidoro Roitman at the Music Academy in Jerusalem with the Bachelor diploma. As a continuo lutenist, Ziv was much in demand in Israel. He appeared in vocal recitals und with Israeli ensembles and baroque orchestras, among others at the Seviqc Brežice Festival and in Radio Kol HaMusica. In 2001 followed a Masters study with Hopkinson Smith at the Schola Cantorum in Basel, intensifying his interest in the solo repertoire for lute.
He was invited to play under René Jacobs in Monteverdi’s L’Orfeo (Innsbrucker Festwochen der Alten Musik, Berlin Stadttheater), and performed with the Lucerne Symphony Orchestra directed by Howard Arman, with Capella Vocale directed by Mark Goossens, and with the Basler Madrigalisten. He recorded Yannis Markopoulos’ oratory The Liturgy of Orpheus with the orchestra of Vlaamse Opera, and performed at the Dag Oude Muziek in Alden Biesen, at the Klara Festival in Brussels and at the fringe programme of the Festival Oude Muziek Utrecht. Since 2010 Ziv Braha teaches lute at the music school of the Schola Cantorum in Basel.
Ryōsuke Sakamoto was born in Nara (Japan). He became interested in early music at the age of three, and subsequently started playing the lute and viola da gamba. After studying at Tokyo University (Bachelor’s degree in Aesthetics), he studied lute and other plucked string instruments with Hopkinson Smith at Schola Cantorum Basiliensis. He furthered his studies there with Crawford Young (plectrum lute), Randall Cook (renaissance viola da gamba) and Anne Smith (performance practice), and graduated in 2013 with a Master’s degree in Specialized Musical Performance.
In 2013 Ryōsuke was awarded the first prize in the solo-lute category at the Concorso “Maurizio Pratola” in L’Aquila (Italy). He has been invited as a soloist by the English, French and German lute societies. He has performed with numerous ensembles, including the Bach Collegium Japan and La Morra, and appeared at many international festivals, for instance in Vienna, Utrecht, York and Regensburg. His numerous recordings, both with the viola da gamba and with the lute, include two solo CDs Travels with My Lute and Polyphony and Diminution, both released by Musica Rediviva (Sweden).
The concert enjoys the auspices of the Governor of the South Moravian Region JUDr. Bohumil Šimek and the Mayor of the Statutory City Brno Ing. Petr Vokřál.