- Composer: Anonymous, Thomas Campion
- Audio CD (1 Mar 1999)
- Number of Discs: 1
- Format: CD
- Label: Naxos
- ASIN: B00000IXIZ
- Other Editions: MP3 Download
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 180,323 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)
The first recordings of early English music on the Naxos label (I'm thinking of Summerly's earlier recordings of Byrd, Tomkins, Gibbons) lacked texts, that has been corrected in later releases, including both this disc (timing 52:52), and the earlier Rickards Dowland recital (8.553381, 1997, timing 74:08). Sound on both discs is more than adequate.
I bought this out of curiosity. Campion's lyrics turn up occasionally in anthologies of poetry and I was curious to hear the songs. I own Rickards and Linell's "Dowland: Flow my tears and other lute songs" and i play it often so I also wanted to know what Dowland's competition sounded like.
Firstly, the performance is of the same high standard as on the other disk. Which is good. Linell plays well and Rickards' voice is fine. The liner notes provide good background information as well as the words to the songs. The only real complaint I could have about the performance is probably related to production: The lute sounds small, thin and distant compared with, say, Bream's lute on "The golden age of English Lute music" or Lindberg's on "The complete solo lute music". This is true of the pair's Dowland recording as well but it may only be a drawback if you're trying to use the performances as a guide to playing the songs yourself. ( I was).
The real drawback to this recording though is the material. Play the Dowland and you're liable to find yourself humming odd snatches of the songs. Play the Campion and you're liable to have difficulty remembering any of the individual tunes. Nor do the lyrics redeem the music. He probably was a "better " lyric writer than Dowland (whatever that means) but music wise Dowland beats him hollow.
If you're studying music history this might be an interesting collection. But if you're just curious and want an introduction to the songs of the period, go for the Dowland first. You're liable to be left feeling like you could listen to more, and then the Campion becomes interesting as a variation. Buy the Campion first and you're liable to wonder why people get enthusiastic about English lute songs. And that would be a pity and a disservice to Linell and Rickards who do such a good job.
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