In its contrapuntal mastery and its ingenuity in the treatment of a single theme, the Lachrimae cycle stands alongside The Art of Fugue composed by J. Bach a century and a half later. Most recordings of the Lachrimae use the standard instrumentation of a consort of viols, ranging from treble to bass and accompanied by a lute. For his second recording of the cycle, however, the Italian violist Cristiano Contadin has boldly created a broken consort performance which mixes the recorder and also early violin and viola in with the uniquely grainy timbre of the viols. Such an instrumentation exploits the long association of the recorder with music of lamentation, and makes a historical connection with, for example, the cantatas of Bach.
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The widespread dissemination of this piece is unsurprising for two reasons; firstly, Dowland travelled extensively as one of the most sought-after lute virtuosi of his age, holding various posts in Germany and Denmark and, secondly, the vogue for English dance music spread rapidly throughout the German-speaking courts of Northern Europe during the later years of the sixteenth century.
The aim of this study, then, is to collate as much of this material as possible and present some preliminary hypotheses regarding in particular the transmission of this piece across mainland Europe.
These can be subdivided according to their tonality and warrant a brief summary. The earliest sources for this setting are Dd. See Example 1. For instance, rhythms are often dotted in later sources especially throughout bars 11aa , cadential formulae slightly varied, and pitch inflections and chord voicings are occasionally the subject of minor alterations.
In some later sources, the piece has been adapted for an instrument with additional bass strings. Unusually, the divisions on each strain of the pavan are reproduced with great consistency, the only exceptions being ML which has some added flourishes and which omits the divisions altogether. Furthermore, FD contains a very closely related version of the piece which differs only in that it features an alternative A division and a variant of the final four bars of the C division. Since this source includes five pieces signed by Dowland and is thought to have belonged to a student of his, it seems plausible that this version may be another of his own creation.
It is also worth noting that the earliest firmly datable version of this piece, that printed from wood-blocks in Barley , is a G minor setting of a similar ilk to those already discussed.
It is not always clear whether the many variants contained in this print arise from typesetting errors or constitute genuine attempts at recomposition. See Figure 2. The problem of enforced registral displacement of the bass line between bars 13 and 14 of the G minor versions the low F is not available on a six-course lute is avoided in A minor settings Example 2 , although this key requires higher hand positions throughout and generally asks more difficult stretches of the player.
Certainly, there were A minor versions dating from at least the same time as the early G minor sources, with a unique A minor setting with divisions also occurring in Dd. Two sources, Hirsch and the fragmentary , preserve another, possibly earlier, A minor setting.
It is interesting to note that there are no surviving Continental sources of the early English A minor lute setting. In fact, there are no Continental lute versions in A minor at all; even the lute part to LoST , which constitutes a perfectly respectable solo setting in its own right, is not amongst those LoST parts reprinted by Van den Hove in his Delitiae Musice.
The G minor version, however, fared slightly better, being both directly copied although, curiously, without the divisions so popular in England and used as the basis for further recomposition. The version in Thysius compiled? The adjacent page to this includes another lute part apparently in D minor; it is presumably a duet part for a different sized instrument pitched a fifth lower or a fourth higher, unless it is a simple consort part for a D minor setting analogous with those in Morley and Cambridge Consort.
These pieces a two-part vocal version in D minor, a cittern piece in D minor and a lute setting in G minor were clearly not intended for simultaneous performance, since they all carry the melody with varying degrees of elaboration and differing harmonic detail. Simon Groot has recently shown that much of the music in this print is taken from printed sources either from England or with strong English connections, and has suggested that the cittern parts were produced either by Valerius or by someone within his circle, since they are derived from the vocal versions of the melodies.
There can be little doubt that the lute version is a second- perhaps third- generation derivative of the English G minor setting, being replete with printing errors bar 3 opens with an incorrect chord and recompositions the flourish from bar 2iii, or the ornamented sequential passage from bar 12 , yet clearly a close relative.
Lachrimae Pavan for Lute (Dowland, John)
Lachrimae, or Seven Tears (Dowland, John)