Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Come Again by John Dowland

John Dowland (1563 - 1626) is likely the most well known lute player and composer of the late 16th century. He studied music beginning in his early childhood, but we really don't know much about his activities until 1594 when he applied to a court post in England as a lutenist - a post for which he was not chosen. He did however become incredibly successful over the next 20 years holding a variety of court positions, publishing several collections of songs. He was famous throughout Europe for his artistry and skill so much so that he was dubbed "the English Orpheus". For more information about John Dowland's life, please visit the links in the sources below the videos.

"Come Again: Sweet Love doth Now Invite" is found in Mr. Dowland's First Booke of Songes or Ayres of foure partes with Tabletrure for the Lute (1597). This collection of 21 songs and one instrumental piece was instantly successful and set a precedent for years to come. It had five separate printings in Dowland's lifetime and triggered many similar efforts from other well known lutenist/composers, many imitating Dowland's First Booke . . . right down to the number and types of songs in their publications.

"Come Again" is a personal favorite of this author. The lyrics are delightfully lovely, romantic, and tragic at the same time making it typical of the bittersweet, melancholy Downland style.

Come again! sweet love doth now invite
Thy graces that refrain
To do me due delight,
To see, to hear, to touch, to kiss, to die,
With thee again in sweetest sympathy.

Come again! that I may cease to mourn
Through thy unkind disdain;
For now left and forlorn
I sit, I sigh, I weep, I faint, I die
In deadly pain and endless misery.

All the day the sun that lends me shine
By frowns doth cause me pine
And feeds me with delay;
Her smiles, my springs that makes my joy to grow,
Her frowns the winter of my woe.

All the night my sleeps are full of dreams,
My eyes are full of streams.
My heart takes no delight
To see the fruits and joys that some do find
And mark the stormes are me assign'd.

But alas, my faith is ever true,
Yet will she never rue
Nor yield me any grace;
Her Eyes of fire, her heart of flint is made,
Whom tears nor truth may once invade.

Gentle Love, draw forth thy wounding dart,
Thou canst not pierce her heart;
For I, that do approve
By sighs and tears more hot than are thy shafts
Do tempt while she for triumphs laughs.

The popularity of John Downland's music is still high today amongst those who follow early music, especially lutenists and acapella choirs. Thus, for your viewing and listening pleasure, following are three versions of "Come Again". 

The first, a lovely choir version "Come Again" by The Stairwell Carollers (of Ottowa, ON, Canada) as directed by Pierre Massie, which showcases the beauty of each of the SATB parts of this madrigal.

The second is a consort version of "Come Again" by the Chicago Early Music Consort featuring Stephanie Sheffield (vocals), Gary Berkenstock (recorder), Joel Spears (lute), and Dr. Phillip W. Serna (bass viol).

The third video is by well known musical artist Sting (yes, that Sting) as accompanied by lutenist Edin Karamazov at the 10th International Guitar Festival Belgrade, Serbia.

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HOASM:  http://www.hoasm.org/IVM/Dowland.html
NAXOS:  http://www.naxos.com/person/John_Dowland_26007/26007.htm
HYPERTEXTS:  http://www.thehypertexts.com/john%20dowland%20poet%20poetry%20picture%20bio.htm
LYRICS:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Come_Again_(Dowland)

Saturday, April 16, 2011

We Be Soldiers Three

Thomas Ravenscroft (1582/92 - 1635) was an English composer and editor who is well known for his rounds and catches compositions and for his compilations of British folk music.  The selected piece, We Be Soliders Three, is from Ravenscroft's Deuteromelia which is dated in 1609 and is a collection of catches and rounds. Interestingly, a song still well known today is also found in that collection:  Three Blind Mice.

Here is a version of the song from YouTube by Owain Phyfe's (and the rest of the New World Renaissance Band):

If you are interested, here is a more modernized version by Coyote Run from YouTube:

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