LUTE SONGS & SOLOS
BY JOHN DOWLAND & PETER CROTON
Theresia Bothe -voice, Peter Croton - lute
special guest Derek Lee Ragin - voice
"Guild is pleased to present music by John Dowland combined with world
premiere recordings of 5 new lute songs by Peter Croton, lute teacher
at the renowned Schola Cantorum Basiliensis. An additional feature of
this recording is the inclusion of new lute solos arranged by Croton
based on Dowland songs. In CONCERTO Magazine: 'The manner in which the
Bothe/Croton duo, with intelligent emotionality and natural passion,
was able to uncover new aspects of lute songs by Dowland totally
enchanted the audience, which exploded in thunderous applause'. In the
GERMAN LUTE SOCIETY newsletter: 'The few attempts to extend the lute
repertory into the 20th and 21st centuries have not attracted the
attention of most lutenists nor of the listening public. All the more welcome, therefore, is
the opportunity to report here songs which in my opinion have the
potential to become a permanent part of the lute song repertory… the
audience is treated to music both challenging and refined. Bothe’s
voice is a feast for the ears, Croton’s playing is lively and
impeccable'. Special guest Derek Lee Ragin is regarded as one of the
foremost vocal artists of our day and is also known to a wide
international audience from the soundtrack to the film 'Farinelli'."
02 Remembrance of things past (text: William Shakespeare)
03 Sleep wayward thoughts*
04 While you here do snoring lie (text: William Shakespeare)
not before thy day*
06 Say love if ever thou didst find*
07 Now, O now I needs must part**
08 Go crystal tears
09 Time stands still*
10 Fine knacks for ladies*
11 Sorrow stay *
12 Sorrow stay
13 His golden locks time hath to silver turned*
14 Flow my tears
15 All the day
16 Come, heavy sleep
17 The Waking (text: Theodore Roethke)
18 Quietness (text: Rumi,
translation by Coleman Barks)
19 Now, O now I needs must
Derek Lee Ragin appears on tracks 17 – 19.
World premiere recordings: #2, 4, 17 – 19.
* lute solo arranged by Peter Croton.
** lute solo arranged by
J. Dowland & P. Croton
Excerpts from CD reviews:
The Lute Society (England)
Lute News, April 2010
“…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!”
Bothe’s clear voice hovers between the two loudspeakers with an almost
presence. Visitors to this year’s Lute Festival in Füssen were able to
experience the clarity and intensity of vocal and instrumental
which is a hallmark of this splendidly unified duo in a captivating
Spanish and Italian music... The entire CD is a superb example of
ensemble between singer(s) and accompanist, of the timeless beauty of
Dowland’s songs, and last but not least of Peter Croton’s skill as
which his experience in jazz and folk contribute noticeably."
Society of America
Quarterly – Volume XLV, No. 2, Summer 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.
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."
Public Radio, New Releases
"American lutenist Peter Croton, now living in Switzerland, decided
to add some of his own new songs to the Dowland tradition, and the clear
and supple voice of Canadian soprano Bothe does justice to it all.
Warmly intimate recorded sound."
The French Lute Society
Le Joueur de Luth, March 2010
(original in French)
"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. "
Fono Forum 10/06
"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."
"'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."
"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."
Toccata, July-August 2010
"Lutenist Peter Croton presents an extraordinary view of John Dowland and his world."
“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.”
"...music by John Dowland together with world premiere recordings of five new lute songs written and played by the excellent Peter Croton."