In Search of Dowland: Consort Music of John Dowland and Carl Rütti

B-Five Recorder Consort
58:45
Coviello COV91415

Dowland’s collection of five-part consort music, Lachrimae or Seaven Teares was completed in 1603 while the composer was employed as a lute player at the court of the Danish king Christian IV and dedicated to the king’s sister Queen Anne of Scotland. It was published in England the following year. Seven “passionate pavans” based on Dowland’s famous song “Flow my teares” are central to the collection which also includes livelier dance music. Three of the Lachrimae pavans are included on this disc, together with some of the galliards and almains. These are interleaved with a five-movement contemporary work by the Swiss composer Carl Rütti, commissioned by B-Five in 2013 to mark Dowland’s 450th birthday and the tenth anniversary of the consort. Dowland’s Lachrimae were “set forth for the Lute, Viols, or Violons” but work very well on five recorders, as every recorder player will know. Rütti’s haunting Dowland-Suite is based on Dowland motifs, sometimes clearly stated and sometimes considerably transformed, and the five movements recount stages in his life. B-Five have designed their performance so that these motifs are heard in an adjacent Dowland piece, and the result is a very pleasing and coherent programme. I’m not too keen on the few percussive thumps in the last movement of the Rütti, which sound as if someone has dropped their music and got rather annoyed about it, but they are probably more effective in a live concert. Otherwise, it’s all beautifully played with precise articulation and intonation on a set of renaissance recorders made by Adrian Brown.

Victoria Helby