Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Come Again: John Dowland and his Contemporaries

John Dowland & His Contemporaries
Come Again
Jan Kobow, tenor
Hamburger Ratsmusik
Simone Eckert, director

John Dowland's music usually shows up in recordings in one of two ways; either as a release of all-Dowland compositions, or as part of a compilation of English renaissance masters. But unlike many of his colleagues, Dowland traveled extensively (if not always voluntarily) throughout Europe.

In doing so, he was exposed to the courtly music of France, Italy, Denmark, and Sweden -- all of which influenced his own writing. Come Again programs Dowland's music alongside contemporary works by Samuel Scheidt, Orlando Gibbons, Michael Praetorius and others. The results are illuminating.

In one grouping, for example, we hear Dowland's 1597 song Can She Excuse My Wrongs, followed by Johann Schop's 1642 Sollt' ich, oBild der Tugend nicht preisen, an anonymous dauant Gagliard, and Gabriel Voigtländler's 1642 Weibernehmen ist kein Pferdekauf -- all sharing the same distinctive opening motif.

Not only are variety of composers presented, but the texture is varied as well. Some selections are sung with ensemble, others with lute accompaniment, and the exclusively instrumental tracks don't all have the same line up of instruments. All of this combines to create an engaging and fresh-sounding listening experience.

Simone Eckert and the Hamburger Ratsmusik perform on instruments of the period, and they do impeccably. Jan Kobow's clear tenor voice has a slightly soft and warm tone that's perfectly suited to Dowland's delicate compositions.

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