Michael Butten : Dowland
First Hand Records: FHR84
Reviewed 17th July 2019
The Berkshire –born guitarist has chosen an all Dowland set for his latest CD, one that many others have done in years gone by. So what distinguishes this latest one from some of the others previously issued?
Firstly the recording quality is exemplary .Using Weston’s Holy Trinity Church for the sessions has really added to the atmosphere created on this album. Secondly the repertoire of twenty tracks over nearly fifty – seven minute is a widely diverse set of pieces from our most famous Lutenist of the Renaissance that gives the listener who may be unfamiliar with a lot of Dowland’s works an ideal starting place for further exploration into them, especially when the playing is as wonderful as this. Some of course may say that one should always hear lute music played on the lute , and no doubt there are a large number of wonderful recordings done in that manner , for example the complete sets of Paul O’Dette and Nigel North to name but two, but one can admit that Butten’s playing on the guitar is so atmospheric that ,if a guitar version is required, this could well fit the bill.
The serious element of Dowland’s compositions is aptly portrayed by Forlone Hope Fancy, Lachrimae Pavan , and Loth to Depart to name but three, whilst the dance element of some of his music has plenty of space too, for example Mrs Winter’s Jump, The Frog Galliard, and the famous Queen Elizabeth’s Galliard.
This is a superb recording in every way.