musica Dei donum
John DANYEL (1564 - c1626): "Like as the lute delights"
Michael Chance, altoa;
Paul Beier, lute
rec: [no date], Eupilio (Lecco), San Vincenzo
Stradivarius - Str 33903 (© 2013) (79'39")
Liner-notes: E/I; lyrics - translation: I
Cover & track-list
Can doleful notes? (First part) - No, let chromatic tunes (Second part) - Uncertain certain turns (Third part)a;
Dost thou withdraw thy grace?a;
Eyes, look no morea;
Coy Daphne fleda;
Like as the lute delightsa;
Thou pretty bird, how do I seea;
Griefe keepe within (First part) - Drop not mine eyes (Second part) - Have all our passions (Third part)a;
I die whenas I do not seea;
Time, cruel timea;
Stay, cruel, stay!a;
If I could shut the gatea;
Mrs Anne Grene her leaves be green;
Let not Cloris thinkea;
What delight can they enjoya;
He whose desires are still abroada;
Why canst thou not?a;
Now the earth, the skies, the aira
John Danyel was an exact contemporary of John Dowland. Their careers went very differently, but they ended as colleagues, at the service of King James I. Dowland died in 1626, and it is likely that Danyel died that same year, possibly as a victim of the plague. Whereas Dowland left a large corpus of music, very few of Danyel's compositions have been preserved.
He was born in Wellow, near Bath, and studied at Christ Church in Oxford. In 1603 he received here the degree of BMus. In 1606 his main work, the Songs for the Lute, Viol and Voice, was printed in London. It was dedicated to 'Mrs Anne Grene the worthy Daughter to Sr William Grene of Milton Knight'; apparently he acted as her lute teacher. In 1625 Danyel is mentioned as one of the royal musicians.
The texts of the songs are from various sources. Some may be from Danyel's own pen; various poems include references to the name of his pupil, Anne Grene. It seems that in some cases he set a text to music he had written before. Other texts were written by his elder brother Samuel, who was the court poet. Like as the lute delights is one of them. Two poems are based on Italian originals by Giovanni Battista Guarini, from his Rime: Thou pretty bird and I die whenas I do not see.
The collection includes three short cycles of three songs each. Grief, keep within, Drop not, mine eyes and Have all our passions are Mrs M E her funeral tears for the death of her husband. It has not been possible as yet to identify the couple the title refers to. These songs fit into the habit of the time, to write songs of mourning for a deceased person. Two of the most famous examples are from the pen of John Coprario: Funeral Teares for the death of the Right Honorable the Earle of Devonshire and Songs of Mourning: Bewailing the untimely death of Prince Henry.
The disc begins with a cycle of three rather unusual songs: Can doleful notes, No, let chromatic tunes and Uncertain certain turns. Apparently it is about the best way to set a sad text to music. This is expressed in words like "doleful notes", "chromatic tunes" and "uncertain certain turns". The text is depicted in daring harmonies.
It is almost inevitable to compare Dowland and Danyel. The famous lachrimae motif of the former turns up in the lute part of several of Danyel's songs, probably as a homage to his colleague. In 1622 Thomas Tomkins mentioned them in one breath as he dedicated a madrigal to 'Doctor Douland' and 'Master Iohn Daniell'. Danyel's songs are quite expressive, but in a different way from Dowland's. Many of the latter's songs are easy on the ear and hard to forget. That is quite different with Danyel's songs. I don't think anyone will be able to hum one of his tunes after listening to this disc. One has to listen carefully to fully understand and appreciate these songs.
Fortunately Michael Chance is an excellent interpreter. He is an old hand in this kind of repertoire, and he seems to have lost few of his skills. In his early years I couln't always appreciate his singing, but some of his later recordings are rather good. This is one of them; it is only in Dost thou withdraw thy grace that he has problems with the highest notes which sound a bit stressed. Elsewhere they come off perfectly. The Funeral Teares are especially noteworthy; Chance delivers a very expressive and moving performance. I was particularly struck by his differentiated interpretation; he shows a great responsiveness to the text. Now the earth the skies the air is for four voices and two lutes. Apparently the two lower vocal parts have been omitted. Here we hear the two upper parts sung by Michael Chance with himself, whereas Paul Beier plays the two lute parts. I regret such technical tricks; a recording should reflect what would be possible in a live performance. However, this is only a small blot on an overall excellent recording.
Although Danyel was a professional lutenist, very little lute music from his pen has come down to us. This could be explained from the fact that lute players often improvised. This disc includes all the pieces for lute solo which have been preserved. Beier plays them very well and is also a sensitive accompanist.
Lovers of English lute songs should not miss this disc.
Johan van Veen (© 2014)