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John Dowland: A Pilgrimes Solace. Our new CD is now available!

March 31, 2013

John Dowland:  A Pilgrimes Solace

A Pilgrimes SolaceWe are delighted to announce that our new recording of music from John Dowland’s last book of songs,  A Pilgrimes Solace, is now available as a CD or in your choice of a wide variety of digital formats.  The recording will be available through all the usual sites in due course and can be accessed now through our Bandcamp site, which also offers the CD booklet and liner notes with full-album digital downloads.

The recording was produced with the help of funding from Kickstarter, which covered a percentage of the project.   We have shipped CDs to our kind Kickstarter supporters in the US and abroad early last week, and those of you who have pre-ordered digital downloads may download them immediately.


Dowland’s last book of songs includes some of the finest, most sensitively wrought music for lute and voice in any language, and certainly represents the pinnacle of the English lute song. Dowland’s familiar ‘Lachrimae’ falling tear motif is found hidden somewhere in the texture of nearly every song on this recording.  The notable feature of intricate writing for obbligato treble viol on three songs makes A Pilgrimes Solace a groundbreaking publication – the earliest published example of English song scored for voice, lute and independent obbligato instrumental parts, and we are  delighted to have been joined on this project by guest artists Alex Korolov and Alexander Rakov on treble & bass viols.

When we first began our concentration on performing music for voice and lute, some of the very first pieces we performed were part-songs from A Pilgrimes Solace. Published in 1612, music from this book is a capstone of Dowland’s output; a mature artistic summation of one of the greatest composers of English song. Now entering our tenth year as a duo, we return to this music with a mature appreciation for the texts Dowland selected and a deeper understanding of his compositional skill.

Worthy of mention is an important aspect of our unique approach to the music of Dowland: When we prepared our interpretations, we sang through each and every note of the part-song settings of his ayres, a revealing process that provided elegant solutions to questions of phrasing and dynamic contrast.  Upon returning to the versions for solo voice and lute, we were able to ‘vocalize’ Dowland’s lute figuration in a way that mingles meaningfully with the cantus, with a result that translates as ensemble polyphony.

We hope you’ll enjoy the results.


Now that our work on Dowland’s A Pilgrimes Solace has been completed, we intend to pursue several other projects of interest.  We already have programs outlined for recordings based on our concert repertory, including the following:

  •  English lute songs by Dowland’s contemporaries Thomas Campion, John Danyel, Robert Jones, and Thomas Morley
  • the music of Philippe Verdelot, including several new intabulations for solo voice and lute
  • a new recording of music from the 15th century by Busnoys, DuFay, Hayne van Ghizeghem, and Robert Morton
  • a second recording of music for Advent, Christmas and Epiphany
  • revisiting early 17th century French airs de cour in celebration of our 10th anniversary as Mignarda

We are prepared to release some or all of this music packaged along with our unique performing scores, if there is sufficient interest.

Other projects we have in mind include new music in the form of our own modern settings of the poetry of Edna St. Vincent Millay, as well as dipping into the 19th century heart song repertory. We have performed this music in concert to very enthusiastic response and you can hear our rendition of When You and I Were Young, Maggie that was featured in a previous blog post.


As you can see from the results, present projects and ideas outlined above, we are hard-working dedicated professionals.  Soon to begin our third year of posting regular Saturday quotes, we produce this blog for the sole objective of sharing our research, our ideas, and our music with friends from all over the world.  We do not receive money from advertising that WordPress may place on or near our blog.  Since we are independent musicians and scholars, we work on our own with no research grants, no support from academic institutions, and at our own expense.  You can well imagine that, in these times, this involves significant personal sacrifice.

If you appreciate our work, and if you would like to see us continue, we invite you to contact us to discuss how you might be able to help support one or more of the projects we outline here.

  1. I have now downloaded and have listened to the entire album. What a triumph! I’ve listened to many Dowland song recordings over the years, and this one communicated more to me than any other. The natural voice, beautifully in consort with the lute (and occasionally viols) seems to get to the heart of the texts and subtexts of the songs. Dowland was such a genius, it is impossible and futile to try to separate the music from the text – the two seem so dependent on one another – and with this recording, it is impossible and futile to separate the singing from the instrumental work, the two seem to emanate from the same source. This is no easy feat. Congratulations to all involved, and lang may your lum reek!

  2. Rob, we are immensely grateful for your comments that go far beyond kind words. While we possess the skills to absorb and inhabit the music, invest in the interpretations, and package the results, we simply have very little energy left to spend on promotion. Coming from a true musician and artist for whom we have the greatest admiration and respect, your active support of our recording means more than you can imagine. Or maybe you can.

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