Flow my tears – Songs for lute, viol and voice by Johnson, Dowland, Danyel, Campion, Hume and Muhly

Reviewed on Tue 19 May, 2015

Recorded live in London’s Wigmore Hall in July 2013, this beguilingly bittersweet recital further enhances Iestyn Davies’s claim for attention as the leading countertenor of his generation. Certainly, there’s immaculate artistry aplenty on display and surprising variety to be found in a collection of late Tudor and Stuart lute and viol songs marked by a predisposition to melancholic introspection and lilting languor. Davies spins silvery threads from text and music, stretching both into heart-aching pleadings and protestations as ravishing as they are heartbreaking. Where his incisively intelligent treatment of text calls to mind Bostridge and Fischer-Dieskau, his long, luminously beautiful musical arcs echo Fritz Wunderlich at his most decorous and dulcet. Alongside songs by Dowland, Campion, Hume, Johnson and John Danyel, Nico Muhly’s involving meditation on Richard III, Old Bones, is a perfectly plaintive companion. Lutenist Thomas Dunford and Jonathan Manson on viol provide sensitive and elegant accompaniment throughout. Excellent notes by Rick Jones and vivid recorded sound.
–Michael Quinn