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After penning Farewell, which Paul O’Dette describes as Dowland’s greatest solo lute work, the composer was to live for 30 more years. Let’s hope O’Dette, who, at 60, marks 20 years since recording Dowland’s complete lute works with this recording, likewise continues to delight us for some time. ‘My Favourite Dowland’ is just that: not a best-of but a collection of Dowland pieces the lutenist, who started life as a rock guitarist, has most enjoyed playing in concert over the last four decades.
So here is
O’Dette, the master of the most intimate thoughts of composers from Bach and
Bacheler to Milano and Molinaro, playing almost for himself, with us as
eavesdroppers. Using a larger instrument than he would normally employ for
Dowland, O’Dette, Montaigne-like, resists sententiousness in favour of unguarded
reflection. This serves him equally well in the more emotionally and musically
complex works such as the chromatic Farewell and Forlorne Hope Fancye – which
together form the dark centre of this recital – and the brooding Semper Dowland
semper dolens as it does in miniatures such as Mrs Winter’s Jump and A Coye Joye.
And if, as in the famous Lachrimae, O’Dette allows considerable breathing space
between paragraphs, phrases and even individual tones, the following Galliard to
Lachrimae shows he’s lost none of his youthful intensity. A fitting tribute to
both composer and interpreter.