25 December 2009

Nigel North plays John Dowland

Acquired a few days ago: a four CD set, issued by the budget label Naxos, of English lutenist Nigel North playing the complete lute music of John Dowland.

John Dowland was an almost exact contemporary of William Shakespeare, and was the pre-eminent lutenist of his day.

Nigel North studied guitar on a scholarship to the junior department of the Guildhall School of Music and Drama (1964-70), taking up the lute in 1969 at the age of 15. From 1971-74 he studied classical guitar, viola da gamba and lute at the Royal College of Music, taking out a diploma in lute performance. He completed the postgraduate course in Early Music at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in 1975 and undertook one month's study with baroque lutenist Michael Schäffer in 1976.

By this time he had already been appointed Professor of Lute at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama. From 1993 to 1999 he was Professor of Historical Plucked Instruments at the Hochschule der Künste in Berlin. From January 1999 he has been Professor of Lute at the Early Music Institute, Jacobs School of Music, Indiana University and, from January 2005, has taught the lute at the Royal Conservatory of The Hague, Holland. He is the author of the standard modern textbook on continuo playing on the lute and related instruments, and is preparing a performance practice handbook on the lute and early guitar.

This is superb music played by a superb musician.  It comes as a boxed set, the individual volumes being:

1. Fancyes, Dreams and Spirits
2. Dowland’s Tears (including his well known Lachrimae Pavan)
3. Pavans, Galliards and Allmains
4. The Queen’s Galliard

At $29.95 the set it is a steal.

The Naxos catalogue number of the set is 8.504016. The catalogue numbers of the individual CDs are 8.557586, 8.557862, 8.570449 and 8.570284.

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