Stravinsky: Jeu de cartes; Danses concertantes; Scènes de Ballet; Variations; Capriccio for Piano and Orchestra. Philharmonia Orchestra, Twentieth Century Classics Ensemble, Orchestra of St. Luke’s and London Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Robert Craft; Mark Wait, piano.
Dowland: Lute Music, Volume 3. Nigel North, lute.
Cimarosa: Opera Overtures, Volume 2—L’Armida immaginaria; Oreste; L’Italiana a Londra; Artaserse; Alessandro nell’Indie; La donna sempre al suo peggior s’appiglia; La Circe; Il fanatico per gli antichi Romani; Giannina e Bernardone. Toronto Chamber Orchestra conducted by Kevin Mallon.
The latest entry in
There is virtuosity of a different sort in the third volume of Nigel North’s exploration of the lute music of John Dowland. North, who plays a modern nine-course lute based on a 16th-century model, is a remarkable performer, beneath whose hands the instrument sings with a surprisingly wide variety of emotions. For his latest CD, North assembled seven miniature dance suites, beginning each with a pavan (the longest movement), continuing with a galliard, and concluding with an almain (usually the shortest movement). The individual dances vary widely in length, from about a minute to seven minutes, and their moods range from melancholy to lighthearted. Not all are equally distinguished, but some are quite unusual, such as “Galliard on a Galliard of Bachelar,” in which Dowland uses another composer’s dance as a jumping-off point for a brief but wide-ranging fantasy. It is easy, when listening to this music, to imagine yourself transported back to Shakespeare’s time – he and Dowland were contemporaries – and to plays that used the music of Dowland and other composers to set the mood and enliven the proceedings.
There is plenty of liveliness in the music of Domenico Cimarosa as well, but there is a great deal of repetitiveness, too, so the second volume of his opera overtures gets a (+++) rating despite fine playing by the Toronto Chamber Orchestra under Kevin Mallon. Listeners who bought