From the reign of Henry VIII and onwards, the lute and its practitioners enjoyed the patronage of the very highest English society. Henry played the lute himself, as did his daughter Elizabeth I, who during one period employed as many as five lutenists at her court. In 1603, when she was succeeded on the throne by James I, the tradition was maintained: with his appointment of John Dowland the king increased the number of royal lutenists, while his queen, Anne of Denmark, played the lute herself. This royal enthusiasm for the lute influenced the aristocracy, and an English style of lute music was established.
Despite the Swedish label for which this disc was recorded, and despite the Swedish origins of the group's leader, the Dowland Consort is English. It has a lot of competition in the realm of instrumental music by John Dowland, but less so for the seven linked pieces that open the program, based on the material used in the famous lute song Seven Teares. (This disc was originally recorded in 1985.) These seven pieces (and the pair of sevens would have had deep significance for Dowland's audience) are unique in Renaissance instrumental music.
Little is known about the life of German violinist and composer Johann Jakob Walther. It is said that he was a violinist in the orchestra of Cosimo III from 1670 to 1674, and afterwards was concertmaster at the court of Dresden. Forty of Walther's compositions are extant, and are contained in two volumes: Scherzi da Violino solo con il basso continuo, published in 1676, and Hortulus chelicus, published in 1688. This release features his Hortulus Chelicus, which scholars believe was composed between 1650 and 1688. In this collection, Walther wrote at a new, higher technical playing level for the violin. The musicians featured on this recording perform on period instruments- Baroque violin, harpsichord, and Baroque cello.
Gefion, named for the Norse goddess associated with ploughing, prophecy and premonition, is the ECM leader debut of Danish guitarist Jakob Bro. Bro first recorded for ECM with Paul Motian on Garden of Eden in 2004, followed by Tomasz Stanko’s Dark Eyes album of 2009. The guitarist’s feeling for melody, sound-colour and atmosphere served him well in those contexts, as it does here in the realization of his own free floating ballads and drifting, spacious-yet-focused pieces.
Qui était Louis Braille? Ce Cd retrace la vie de cet homme, qui lui-même devenu aveugle dans sa petite enfance, inventa à l'âge de 16 ans l'écriture pour aveugles. …