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Come again sweet love doth now invite

John Dowland (b. 1563 - d. 1626)

Maria Keohane (photo credit: Göran Persson)

Maria Keohane (photo credit: Göran Persson)

Composer
John Dowland (b. 1563 - d. 1626)
Composition Year
1597
Artists
Maria Keohane [soprano], Concerto Copenhagen (Peter Spissky, Fredrik From, Antina Hugosson [violins], Torbjörn Köhl [viola], Kate Hearne [cello], Mattias Frostenson [bass], Fredrik Bock [archlute, Guitar], Lars-Ulrik Mortensen [harpsichord, Director])

Programme Note Writer:
©

Dowland’s address to the courteous Reader in his First Booke of Songes could stand for many of those who offer their creations to the public eye or ear. How hard an enterprise it is in this skilfull and curious age to commit our private labours to the publicke view, mine owne disabilitie and others hard successe doe too well assure me: and were it not for that love I beare to the true lovers of musicke, I had concealde these my first prints, which how they will thrive with your taste I know not. He had no need to worry; the Songes were a huge hit and had to be reprinted at least four times.

Posterity has described him as one of England’s greatest song composers alongside Purcell and Britten, but for most of his life he had to seek employment abroad as the English Court continually rejected him, so he perforce became one of England’s most widely travelled and celebrated composer-performers. He did not take kindly to this rejection and used the prefaces to his published works to complain about the injustices of his life, the shortcomings of rival composers and musicians and the inadequacies of the late Elizabethan world, doubtless making himself yet more enemies in the process. He spent many years on the continent and from 1598-1606 was generously employed by King Christian IV of Denmark, who was bemused that such beautiful music could come from so agitated a soul. On being remonstrated with he would reply that music can only be born out of fire and fury. He was known throughout Europe as the English Orpheus, but did not receive royal recognition is in his own country until he was almost fifty.

Our own age has responded to the romantic isolation of many of his songs, the individual voice alienated from society expressing many of our deepest anxieties. His personal motto semper Dowland semper dolens encourages a not entirely justified gloomy interpretation of his works. His texts are fabulous, some of them highly suggestive in the Elizabethan manner, and we know not who wrote them. The melodies are not only gorgeous but are wonderfully crafted. The words may seem black but the beauty of the music tells another story.

As with all verse and lyrics from the Elizabethan and Stuart era, the double entendre and the hidden meanings, both political and sexual, should be sought out. Come again seems so cheerful but in fact contrasts the longed-for joys of love with the hopelessness of not possessing them. The secret to understanding Can she excuse my wrongs is its sub-title Earl of Essex, his Galliard. The galliard was a lively and athletic dance, known to be Queen Elizabeth’s favourite, and the Earl of Essex was for a long time a close advisor of the Queen, but flew too near the sun and was beheaded for treason, adding some bite to the final stanza. The King of Denmark’s Galliard was an arrangement of an earlier Battle Galliard, probably made to propitiate the King after Dowland had been absent without leave from the Danish Court. What poor astronomers shows clearly that Dowland did not suffer fools gladly with a jocular and bawdy text. Flow my tears is a poem of unrelieved gloom with text and music of unmatched beauty. Dowland’s famous Lachrimae or Seven Teares figured in Seven Passionate Pavans consists of a monumental set of variations on the pavan that inspired Flow my tears - so successful was it that the doleful melody permeated Elizabethan musical and literary culture.

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Come again sweet love doth now invite

Composer: John Dowland (b. 1563 - d. 1626)
Performance date: Tuesday 1st July 2014
Venue: St. Brendan's Church, Bantry, Co Cork, Ireland

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Composer John Dowland (b. 1563 - d. 1626)
Work Title Come again sweet love doth now invite
Composition Year 1597
Artist(s) Maria Keohane [soprano], Concerto Copenhagen (Peter Spissky, Fredrik From, Antina Hugosson [violins], Torbjörn Köhl [viola], Kate Hearne [cello], Mattias Frostenson [bass], Fredrik Bock [archlute, Guitar], Lars-Ulrik Mortensen [harpsichord, Director])
Performance Date Tuesday 1st July 2014
Performance Venue St. Brendan's Church, Bantry, Co Cork, Ireland
Event Coffee Concert
Duration 00:03:10
Recording Engineer Richard McCullough, RTE
Instrumentation Category Small Mixed Ensemble
Instrumentation S-solo, 2vn, va, vc, db, lu/gui

Dowland’s address to the courteous Reader in his First Booke of Songes could stand for many of those who offer their creations to the public eye or ear. How hard an enterprise it is in this skilfull and curious age to commit our private labours to the publicke view, mine owne disabilitie and others hard successe doe too well assure me: and were it not for that love I beare to the true lovers of musicke, I had concealde these my first prints, which how they will thrive with your taste I know not. He had no need to worry; the Songes were a huge hit and had to be reprinted at least four times.

Posterity has described him as one of England’s greatest song composers alongside Purcell and Britten, but for most of his life he had to seek employment abroad as the English Court continually rejected him, so he perforce became one of England’s most widely travelled and celebrated composer-performers. He did not take kindly to this rejection and used the prefaces to his published works to complain about the injustices of his life, the shortcomings of rival composers and musicians and the inadequacies of the late Elizabethan world, doubtless making himself yet more enemies in the process. He spent many years on the continent and from 1598-1606 was generously employed by King Christian IV of Denmark, who was bemused that such beautiful music could come from so agitated a soul. On being remonstrated with he would reply that music can only be born out of fire and fury. He was known throughout Europe as the English Orpheus, but did not receive royal recognition is in his own country until he was almost fifty.

Our own age has responded to the romantic isolation of many of his songs, the individual voice alienated from society expressing many of our deepest anxieties. His personal motto semper Dowland semper dolens encourages a not entirely justified gloomy interpretation of his works. His texts are fabulous, some of them highly suggestive in the Elizabethan manner, and we know not who wrote them. The melodies are not only gorgeous but are wonderfully crafted. The words may seem black but the beauty of the music tells another story.

As with all verse and lyrics from the Elizabethan and Stuart era, the double entendre and the hidden meanings, both political and sexual, should be sought out. Come again seems so cheerful but in fact contrasts the longed-for joys of love with the hopelessness of not possessing them. The secret to understanding Can she excuse my wrongs is its sub-title Earl of Essex, his Galliard. The galliard was a lively and athletic dance, known to be Queen Elizabeth’s favourite, and the Earl of Essex was for a long time a close advisor of the Queen, but flew too near the sun and was beheaded for treason, adding some bite to the final stanza. The King of Denmark’s Galliard was an arrangement of an earlier Battle Galliard, probably made to propitiate the King after Dowland had been absent without leave from the Danish Court. What poor astronomers shows clearly that Dowland did not suffer fools gladly with a jocular and bawdy text. Flow my tears is a poem of unrelieved gloom with text and music of unmatched beauty. Dowland’s famous Lachrimae or Seven Teares figured in Seven Passionate Pavans consists of a monumental set of variations on the pavan that inspired Flow my tears - so successful was it that the doleful melody permeated Elizabethan musical and literary culture.