City Guide to Edinburgh, Scotland

City Guide to Edinburgh, Scotland

Music of the Stuarts by John Dowland, St Andrew's and St George's West, Review

By Barnaby Miln - Posted on 11 August 2016

James Laing.jpg
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Ian McFarlane for McFarlane Productions
Running time: 
Dowland Voice: Flow my tears; Come again; Now, O now, I needs must part; White as lilies was her face; Would my conceit?; Sorrow, stay; Tell me true Love; In darkness let me dwell; If my complaints could passions move; Dear, if you change. Dowland Lute solos: Preludium; Cease these false sports; Galliard to Lachrymal; A Fancy. Bataille Lute solo, C’est un ament.
James Laing (countertenor), Susanna Pell (bass viol), James Akers (theorbo)

The music of John Dowland (1563 - 1626) is considered melancholic, as of the musical fashion at the time, and yet the man himself was considered to be of a cheerful disposition. In a fascinating concert, one of two, the well considered countertenor James Laing was anything but melancholic as he sang for us ten Dowland songs.

The concert marked Shakespeare's 400th anniversary with the sort of music played in the Court of James VI after he had moved to London to take also the English crown as James I of Great Britain. Early in his career Dowland had been on the continent spending time at the Danish Court. He produced four publications from which our concert's music has derived.

As the opener James Laing sang one of the best known 'Flow my tears, fall from your springs'. We immediately knew we had a particularly talented countertenor singing for us. But Dowland appears to have made his living playing the lute, as a lutist. To accompany the songs were Susanna Pell with her bass viol, an early form of cello, and James Akers with his theobo.

James Akers played four lute works by Dowland and one by Bataille, a contemporary of Dowland's, interspersed with the songs. In all, an inspirational hour long concert to be followed a day later by a concert of music by Purcell.

Performance: Wednesday 10th August 2016 at 16:30