Theresia Bothe
 &
Peter Croton


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biographies and reviews

Theresia Bothe was born in Canada to an Irish mother and German father, and grew up in Mexico. Early on she developed a passion for singing, particularly popular and traditional music. She began formal voice studies in Mexico City, continued in London, in Trossingen, Germany and at the Schola Cantorum Basiliensis, in Switzerland, specializing in music of earlier periods. She has performed frequently in Mexico and throughout Europe as a soloist, in ensembles or accompanying herself with guitar or lute. She enjoys performing all sorts of styles of music, from ancient Greek, through medieval, baroque, classical, opera, contemporary to folk, jazz or just free improvisation in formal and informal situations. Theresia Bothe now lives in Switzerland, where she also teaches voice and directs choirs and a-capella vocal ensembles. In addition to teaching and performing, she has founded M-CC (Music - a Chance for Change), an organization which intends to help integrate music into the work of human rights organizations and related independent projects.  www.thbothe.com

Peter Croton grew up in the USA and presently lives in Switzerland. As a child of six he began performing as a folk guitarist and singer. Peter’s musical roots in folk and jazz were supplemented by studies of the lute and classical guitar with Loris Chobanian at the Oberlin Conservatory of Music (USA), and with Eugen Dombois and Hopkinson Smith at the Schola Cantorum Basiliensis. In 1984 he won first prize at the "Erwin Bodky" competition for Early Music in Boston, and has also won prizes at the international lute competition "Guitar '84" in Toronto and at the international competition "Concert Artists' Guild" in New York City. He is an active performer in Europe and the USA as a soloist and chamber musician, and his musical spectrum reaches from early music to folk, jazz, and popular idioms. Peter teaches lute, historical performance practice, and guitar continuo at the Schola Cantorum Basiliensis and the Conservatories of Music in Basel and Bern. Since 1984 he has been involved in numerous CD (Deutsche Harmonia Mundi, Virgin, Channel Classics, Musicaphon,Guild,  Balance and Proprius). radio and television productions. His solo-recording "Bach On The Italian Lute" has recently been released by Guild. In 2001 six of his compositions were published by the German Lute Society, and his tutor, "Figured Bass on the Classical Guitar" was published in 2005 by Amadeus Verlag in Switzerland.  
www.peter-croton.com


Selections from concert reviews of the Bothe/Croton Duo


"The public was completely ecstatic with the evening concert under the name 'Remembrance of Things Past', which included works by John Dowland, William Shakespeare and Croton himself. The manner with which the duo, with intelligent emotionality and natural passion, was able to uncover new aspects of the well-known lute songs by John Dowland completely enchanted the audience, which exploded in thunderous applause."  

  Concerto - The Magazine for Early Music, June/July 2009

                                                                                                                                       

"Theresia Bothe and Peter Croton began their program with three sensational Spanish songs. Bothe and Croton had already impressed me greatly the first time I heard them in concert at the Festival in Kassel. This time they explored European songs and Spanish and Italian instrumental music from ca. 1600, the Baroque and the 19th century, with Croton switching from a ten-course lute to a Roudhloff-guitar (ca. 1820) distinguished by its well-projecting and flexible sound. Their concert inspired the first encore at this festival – rightly so!... high-spirited, exalted performance..."

   German Lute Society, Lute Info 2 (2010)

 

"Quality music has no borders...the two artists impressively proved this during the evening...Already with the first notes it was clear how tremendous this evening would be...The singer’s voice was crystal-clear and rich...The duo successfully  portrayed the emotions in the music...A new, surprising and often wild type of composing gained acceptance in the late 16th century in Italy.  The toccata of Kapsberger is a good example of this style, and the lutenist demonstrated his impressive talents with this solo...This program offered everything, from sadness through joy, to dreamy love poems. An unbelievable charisma radiated from both musicians, which was transmitted to the audience.  The thunderous applause at the end was not only for their musical brilliance but also for their charming stage presence."

   Zürichsee Zeitung

 

The Basel Duo Theresia Bothe (voice) and Peter Croton (lute and romantic guitar) presented a new program of Spanish, Italian and Peruvian songs and instrumental pieces from the Renaissance to the early Romantic period. The Canadian-born singer who grew up in Mexico has mastered the art of passionately presenting the meaning of songs whose language the listeners might not understand. Her duo partner Peter Croton also put on a dazzling performance as a soloist, playing with breathtaking virtuosity works by Alessandro Piccinini and Giovanni Zamboni, as well as a romantic piece by Mauro Giuliani…. rousing as well as unconventional performance...”

   Concerto - The Magazine for Early Music, August/September 2010


 "Theresia Bothe and Peter Croton presented an afternoon of pure musical beauty for a large audience...With the music of Monteverdi, the public was treated to timeless masterpieces, transported by the lively and  radiant voice of Theresia Bothe...In his interpretation of the Sonatina by  Mauro Giuliani, Peter Croton showed his total virtuosity, and fully demonstrated the possibilities of the romantic guitar, which although fairly small, managed to fill the room with its full and harmonious sonorities...The musician, who is a teacher at the famous Schola Cantorum Basiliensis in Basel, showed in the interpretations of his own works the richness of his  inspiration as a composer...On this rainy Sunday, this recital was a occasion  of relaxation, pleasure and astonishment."

   Dernières Nouvelles d'Alsace

 

"The communicative verve of Theresia Bothe rejuvenates this music, making it alive and accessible.  Their style of performance lends a naturalness and delicacy emphasized by the colors of the lute..."

   L'Impartial, La Chaux-de-Fonds

 

 "This concert was full of lively and stylistic interpretations of composers from different epochs, notably works by Monteverdi, Purcell, Frescobaldi, Weber, and Croton himself, who revealed his great talent as a composer.  The large audience was treated to a concert of the highest quality."

   L’Alsace Le Pays

 

 "Theresia Bothe und Peter Croton gave a superb concert. The first half was dominated by Early Music, in the second half the duo gave a convincing jazzy performance."

   Märkische Allgemeine, Brandenburg

 

 

Selections from CD reviews of the Bothe/Croton Duo


 Remembrance of Things Past (Guild)

“…Croton is a creative musician who wishes to recapture the improvisational and inventive nature of the early lutenists. The result, quite different from many of Croton's contemporaries, is that Dowland's music is presented as living and malleable, inspiring transformation as well as new compositions…

   The CD opens with the Preludium by John Dowland followed by two settings of Shakespeare by Croton. The lute writing is sparse but idiomatic, with very strong melodic lines which linger in the head; they are often reminiscent of Stephen Sondheim. My favourite is the setting of ‘While you hear do snoring lie”, which has a memorable lute part.

   Theresia Bothe’s voice is very individual. Her expressiveness comes from the emphasis and colouring of certain words and the breaking of phrases, rather than ornamenting or varying the music according to historical practise. This approach probably reflects her interest and experiences with the more popular forms of music. She sings in tune and her diction is generally good.

   Croton approaches Dowland’s songs in different ways. First, he offers them in the usual manner, i.e. as a song with the lute part as written, but often he presents settings of the songs in versions for solo lute before the song begins (‘Say Love if ever thou did’st find’). Also, in the middle of a song he will often give the repeat sections to the lute (‘Sleep wayward thoughts’). Listen also for the nice variations that he makes in some songs when accompanying the voice (‘Now, O now’). Hearing all this new material created by Croton is like discovering new works by Dowland, such is his sense of style and his ability to emulate Dowland’s melodic gift. Croton’s tone on the lute is good, his phrasing elegant and there is much variety of articulation.

   The last section of the CD contains three more songs composed by Croton; the songs this time are for two voices. Bothe is joined by Derek Lee Ragin. These songs are more adventurous, but still very idiomatic for both voice and lute. I particularly like the setting of the poet Rumi, where the lute has very oud-like flavour. The CD ends with a new duo setting of ‘Now, O now’. You might consider Croton to be a brave man in attempting to set such well-known words, but for me, within a few moments of listening I had forgotten the original and was captivated by this version.

   If you are looking for a fresh approach to traditional material, for new ways in programming, then try this CD, it is full of surprises!”

    THE LUTE SOCIETY (ENGLAND) – Lute News, April 2010
 

    "This is a disc of many colors. Croton is firmly versed in the lute's culture and history but has happily succumbed to the modern pull of his love of song, so the CD flits between our age and Dowland's. Where Croton takes printed texts for his own compositions he is the renaissance composer, albeit with modern notes and rhythms. Where he sets Dowland's songs to the lute where no lute solo existed before, he sets them with the uncanny wit and style of an anonymous scribe in a renaissance manuscript. "Sorrow stay," for example, would be a delight for any lute soloist if conveniently found in some ancient book. Derek Lee Ragin's tenor is another exciting contrast of modern song - especially in Dowland's "Now, oh now" - with a perfectly subtle renaissance sensibility, in contrast to soprano Theresia Bothe's modern shaping of voice. Croton offers two visions of this song: once with Dowland's melody with Bothe's forthright soprano and the other in Croton's setting, replete with bold strokes of calms and clashes, familiar rhythms against dissonance and resolution.

    Thus the music dances on both shores of the 400-year ocean that divides these ages. Croton builds his sound on a light Gottlieb lute with modern wound strings, with a sustain that echoes Bothe's long soprano lines. Croton intrepidly reaches for every bit of nuance in the poems of Roethke and Shakespeare, much as Dowland approached the poets of his day. This is an exciting record, though perhaps not for those of our current HIP persuasion."

   LUTE SOCIETY OF AMERICA QUARTERLY – Volume XLV, No. 2, Summer 2010


"…Theresia Bothe’s clear voice hovers between the two loudspeakers with an almost physical presence. Visitors to this year’s Lute Festival in Füssen were able to experience the clarity and intensity of vocal and instrumental articulation which is a hallmark of this splendidly unified duo in a captivating recital of Spanish and Italian music... The entire CD is a superb example of perfect ensemble between singer(s) and accompanist, of the timeless beauty of John Dowland’s songs, and last but not least of Peter Croton’s skill as composer, to which his experience in jazz and folk contribute noticeably."

    GERMAN LUTE SOCIETY,  Lute Info 2 (2010)

   (original in German)


"A recording of voice and lute beginning with a lute prelude, as if to start off an evening among music lovers, or a concert…what a wonderful idea! In the Preludium by Dowland, Peter’s sound is pleasing, the phrasing free and varied; he makes the most of the lute, as he does throughout the entire recording, in which there are plenty of, introductions, arrangements and interludes. The following piece (Remembrance) begins in the same style, with a classic, fantasia-like theme - but soon a number of dissonances appear….we find ourselves in the twenty-first century! Then the voice enters, with a skipping melody but sung quite smoothly, accompanied by some delicate notes from the lute (few chords, but quite skillful imitations); the piece is well-constructed with lovely contrasts. In another work by Peter Croton, also based on a text by Shakespeare, the lute introduces a diatonic theme consisting of descending slurred notes, while the voice, exploring its entire range, approaches Sprechgesang to finish with the cry “awake!”

A dozen Dowland songs follow, several “hits” (Flow my tears, Now O now I need must part, Come heavy sleep, Come again – however with the words All the day…), but also some sublime “ayres” as well, such as Go crystal tears or  Sorrow stay. The originality of this recording lies in the numerous and convincing arrangements of these songs which Peter has created for solo lute, and uses as preludes, ritornellos between verses or postludes.  He accompanies effectively, the bass nicely present and well articulated, while the voice, though perhaps not quite dark enough in the tragic pieces, is light, clear and natural in the lively ones.

The last three pieces, by Peter Croton, are dialogues for two voices and lute. The first piece is particularly interesting because of the fine interaction among the three musicians (harmonious lute arpeggios, voices imitating each other and in parallel movement). The second piece, based on a poem by Rumi (a mystical Sufi poet of the thirteenth century) sounds vividly oriental, full of ornamentation, with music which truly does justice to the text. As for the third piece: surprise! Croton preserves the words and rhythms of Now O now I need must part, but composes it for two voices, with an original melody, accompanied by arpeggios…a mischievous wink to round off this highly original recording which gently introduces lutenists to contemporary music. "

    THE FRENCH LUTE SOCIETY  - Le Joueur de Luth, March 2010

   (original in French)


"Blinders seem to be unfamiliar to Peter Croton and Theresia Bothe with regards to making music. They are as comfortable performing early music as they are folk and jazz. One inevitably thinks of Sting, who also tried his hand at Dowland. Unlike him however, Theresia Bothe avoids the artificiality which so quickly becomes mannered. With her beguiling naturalness and crystal-clear voice she does much more justice to the text and music, and succeeds in moving the emotions more strongly. Peter Croton, who contributes a few of his own compositions, impresses with his subtle virtuosity."

   FONO FORUM 10/06

 
"'This is an unusual offering, and it’s very far from a conventional single disc survey of Dowland’s music, either for lute or voice. Instead it offers re-creationist possibilities and a more curious interplay between his music and that of the performer-composer Peter Croton who has been inspired by it. He has arranged a number of Dowland’s songs for lute, Croton’s own instrument, and there are several of his own compositions as well. Croton is a fine lutenist, with an acute ear for colour, and he possesses a strong technique… What gives this project even greater resonance is the chosen singer, Theresia Bothe. Her voice continues the theme of cross-current enshrined in the disc; it embodies elements of classical purity in places but also has a decided folk influence more commonly to be found among the Waterson and Wainwright clans. This is deliberate of course, the better to inflect these arrangements with a sense of intimacy, though whether it actually succeeds in transmuting – or limiting – the original source material from the Books of Songs is very much a matter of taste… Croton’s own compositions occupy an equally modern ground, one akin to music theatre, which is how Bothe delivers Remembrance of things past. For the three remaining songs Derek Lee Ragin joins Croton… Do I detect however, in Croton’s writing and playing, hints of the oud in the exotic Rumi setting, giving it an even greater sense of place? So this is a somewhat out of the way disc, pursuing a very individual slant on Dowland, and succeeding more often than not."

   MUSICWEB INTERNATIONAL



"This is a very unorthodox recording of John Dowland's lute songs… experimental in several ways… there are absolutely compelling moments here, and this disc belongs in any serious Dowland collection or in that of anyone who simply enjoys speculative modes of performance. The designer of the performance seems to be lutenist Peter Croton, who treats the Dowland songs in various ways: playing them straight, ornamenting them, and adding preludes and central sections. The most immediately unusual thing general listeners may notice is the voice of soprano Theresia Bothe… Her singing is almost vibrato-free (vibrato creeps in as a feathery ornament at phrase ends or as a point of emphasis elsewhere), spot-on accurate when it comes to pitch, and yet well supported from below with just a hint of roughness. It is not a "pure" voice, but it is nevertheless suited to the pitch demands of Dowland's music. Bothe may be a matter of taste, but for some listeners she'll be a matter of serious addiction. If all this is not enough, Croton composes new lute songs loosely based on Renaissance models where the tonality and phrasing are pushed, but the idiom is recognizable… and a set of three at the end, (with) Derek Lee Ragin, also a compelling and distinctive vocalist… there are plenty of really gorgeous moments along the way, and the entire disc benefits from an X-factor related to genuine risk-taking. Sample Bothe's absolutely limpid take on Go crystal tears (track 8), or Croton's orginal setting of Theodore Roethke's poem "The Waking" (track 17), which, like the other Croton pieces, is a world premiere. Add in unusually good lute-song sound that is absolutely clear with a minimum of fuss from Switzerland's Guild label, and you have a really noteworthy offbeat release."

    ALLMUSIC.COM


“Peter Croton and Theresia Bothe have worked together for some years now, and they have a fine partnership. Bothe has a good voice for these songs – pure and sweet.”

AMERICAN RECORD GUIDE, January/February 2011


"Lutenist Peter Croton presents an extraordinary view of John Dowland and his world."

   TOCCATA, July-August 2010


Love Song From Five Centuries (Centaur)

"Ms. Bothe's light, flexible soprano and her interpretative insight into the texts are well-suited to these songs of exquisite longing for love and the exquisite pain that it brings. She and her partner are attuned to the tender "complaints" (as the word was then understood) in the songs "Can she excuse my wrongs?" and "Come away" by John Dowland. In Spain, by contrast, the major composers did not write love songs; that was left to our old friend, Anonymous. Consequently, songs such as "Vestros ojos" (Your eyes) and "Quien quiere entrar" (Who wants to go with me) have an earthier, more popular flavor, which Ms. Bothe captures very successfully."

 

"There follow a charming 19th century Night of carousing song, "Meet me by moonlight" by J. Augustine Wade, three spirited Italian songs and two guitar pieces by Mauro Giuliani, and four original songs by Peter Croton, the artist heard on this CD. Three of the titles "Come away, Death," "Sing no more, ladies," and "In darkness let me dwell" are the composer's homage to the age of Dowland and Shakespeare in a modern sensibility. Three handsome folk traditionals, "The garden where the praties grow," "The water is wide," and "Black is the color of my true love's hair" afford Theresia Bothe the opportunity to show her considerable talent as a folk singer."

   ATLANTA AUDIO SOCIETY

 

 

"Here is a delightful exploration of nearly 500 years' worth of love songs…Bothe and Croton are a dynamic duo. Ms. Bothe brings much energy and expression to the songs: I especially liked the non-sentimental rendition of Dowland's "Can she excuse my wrongs?"…I enjoy folk music from nearly all traditions, so I think this is a lovely addition to the many recordings of love songs…Nor does the recording disappoint at the end as it becomes increasingly modern. Croton's compositions are tonal and fit well, though they are somewhat darker than the rest, showing great sensitivity for the lyrics"

   AMERICAN RECORD GUIDE

 

I'll Sing a Song For You (ZahZah)

"Irish-Canadian vocalist Theresia Bothe grew up in Mexico. Guitarist/vocalist Peter Croton is a U.S. native who was trained at the Oberlin Conservatory, and has won awards all over North America during his travels. Both live in Switzerland, and while all of these facts may account for the folk/pop/jazz mix you hear on this recording, it does not tell the complete story. While heavier on the folk/pop component, there's a sweetness and light to the original material heard throughout. Bothe is distinctively Irish in her vocal style, rolling r's and brandishing the clipped, bold and bright bonnie tones associated with Celtic singing. Croton is similar to Gordon Lightfoot vocally, while on the guitar his approach is fairly basic within the folk tradition, though at times it's clear he's heard his share of the mellower side of Kenny Burrell. The most surprising ideas, though much less traditionally mainstream jazz than one might think, are the tributes to Langston Hughes and Billie Holiday. The duo play an homage to the legendary poet "On The Death Of Langston Hughes," while the sad "Song For Billie Holiday" is in 3/4 time. A New Orleans shuffle in a quartet setting shows the best improvisation and swing during "Life Is Fine" as sung by Croton, Bothe's feature on the lullaby "Song To A Sleeping Child" is the most tender tune of the date, and during the rock oriented song of departure "You're Running Away Again," both sing in harmony. The remainder of the program leans to folk, especially Croton's impressive acoustic guitar finger style triplet forms on "Land Of Dreams" with a more ethereal Bothe, while "Just Another Shoulder To Lean On" markedly molds the swing and pop shells into a unified whole. "

  ALL MUSIC GUIDE, Michael G. Nastos

 

"Bothe sings from her heart with a strong rich voice that will excite folk music lovers as they expand their envelope. Our favorite was "Another day in life with you" with a cool guitar intro by Peter."

  O’S PLACE  JAZZ NEWSLETTER, D. Oscar Groomes

 

"This band creates a unique blend of folk pop and jazz. Bothe and Croton's music is formed from the stylings of Billy Holiday and Kenny Burrell. The voice of Theresia Bothe is a bit like Judie Collins and Joan Baez, so that definitely fits with the theme of folk jazz.

 

There also seems to be a dose of poetry-laced lyrics infused in some of these songs. "On the death of Langston Hughes" has a slow melodic sound that is more folk than jazz, but incorporates both styles. "Song for Billie Holiday" has impressive guitar accompaniment with strong lyrics. The chordings chosen by Croton fit this song to a tee. A subtle echo effect lends merit to this track. The guitar tone is good and a slight tremolo sound is present. "I'll Sing a Song for You" has an intro with jazz chords. It moves into a faster ballad sung by Bothe and has cool jazz drumming and upright bass on the track.

 

The CD "I'll Sing a Song for You" has impressive vocals and jazz guitar playing, which will make it appeal to fans of folk-laden jazz."

  METRO SPRIT, Rich McCracken II

 

"Two talented pros travel the singer/songwriter route, with a little genre splicing for flavor, and deliver a nice set of originals that goes down well and never comes across as over reaching.  Tackling life’s big questions in song, this is the kind of under the radar, neo-folk that gives you the easy kind of music you can kick back with but isn’t fluff."

  MIDWEST RECORD, Chris Spector