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Court Music from Elizabethan and Jacobean England

James Gilchrist tenor Matthew Wadsworth - lute

The Wigmore Hall - 6 January 2006

 

Phillip Rosseter:

Sweet come again; And would you see

Prelude; Fantasia (lute solo)

No grave for woe; Reprove not love; When Laura smiles

Pavana; Galliard (lute solo)

 

John Dowland:

Can she excuse my wrongs; In darkness le me dwell; I saw my lady weep; Flow my tears; My thoughts are winged with hopes

Preludium; Lachrimae pavan; Fortune (lute solo)

 

Thomas Campion:

The Cypress curtain of the night; Oft have I sighed; Author of light; Never Weather beaten sail

 

Matthew Wadsworth has come to be regarded as one of our leading lutenists and this recital showcased his collaboration with tenor James Gilchrist in a new CD devoted to the works of Phillip Rosseter

 

Rosseter was one of a group of musicians appointed to the court of James I and he was also active as a theatrical manager struggling against the difficult censorship requirements of the period. His surviving musical output is regrettably meagre, a compilation of arrangements for broken consort, one published collection of songs and a handful of pieces for solo lute. These works show a melodic lightness of character and an inventive and forward looking style which make them more than worthy of attention. Matthew Wadsworth clearly loves them, and his faultless playing was matched by James Gilchrist's elegance of voice and superb diction. Together they showed just how fresh and exciting this music is and made a most eloquent case for Rosseter's ranking as a composer.

 

To underline their case they went on to present a selection of works from his better known contemporaries. Dowland probably enjoyed the highest reputation, having travelled widely through Europe and held a post at the Danish court for a number of years before returning to London . His music was both popular and widely performed and many of his tunes are still familiar today. Nevertheless, he was inclined to melancholy and there is a tragic undercurrent in many of his best songs In darkness let me dwell is perhaps the finest example and Gilchrist and Wadsworth caught its mood to perfection.

 

The final composer to be represented was Thomas Campion. He was first and foremost a poet, and his inherent respect for words and metric rhythm stands out in his song settings. Here James Gilchrist was in his element, and he savoured and projected the beauty of the language as much as the melody.

 

A fine evening's music making indeed, and it was satisfying to see that a near capacity audience had flocked to the Wigmore Hall to hear it.

 

© Serena Fenwick

 

The lute is a very quiet, domestic instrument and there were times, particularly in the earlier groups, when one might have preferred a little enhancement of the accompaniment. However, we soon got used to the live balance, and to enjoy the full flowering of the lute's delectable timbre under Matthew Wadsworth's fingers during his solos.
The perfect balance in the studio recording of the Rossetter CD can be sampled at http://www.matthewwadsworth.com/recordings.htm

 

There is a tendency to avoid mentioning disability in music reviews out of sensitivity and consideration and misplaced political correctness - embarrasment too, I guess? We have written about André Marchal, Itzhak Perlman, Evelyn Glennie, Thomas Quasthoff, and scholar-musician Matthew Wadsworth himself, without mentioning the disabilities they have overcome so triumphantly. But this concert was sponsored by Talking Newspapers, for whom the blind Matthew Wadsworth was described as their "musical ambassador".


The programme book included a "multimedia information disc" and readers can obtain one (or otherwise details on line) by accessing http://www.tnauk.org.uk/ to learn all about this marvellous facility for the visually impaired, and too for other people for whom the printed word presents difficulties. [Editor]

 


Philip Rosseter songs and lute solos


Matthew Wadsworth (lute) & James Gilchrist (tenor)

 

Avie AV 2074

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sweet come again
And would you see
A fantasie
No grave for woe
Reprove not love
What then is love
Pavan in F minor
Galliard in F minor
Galliard in F major
Though far from joy
When Laura smiles
Kind in unkindness
Prelude
Pavan in G minor
Galliard in G minor
Almayne
If she forsake me
Shall I come if I swim
Away Delights: Lute solos and song
Whether men do laugh
What heart's content

 
This superbly achieved CD, the first devoted entirely to Rosseter, fulfils one's high expectations at the concert.

Gilchrist's diction is remarkable, without giving a feeling of exaggeration; it is however good always to have the texts too as here to appreciate the imagery of poems which are not always straightforwardly simple.
Balance is ideal (not so easy to achieve with lute in recital) without any feeling of falsification. The solos are delightful and this is as sensitive lute playing as you will encounter anywhere.
Wadsworth's research through the available manuscripts is set out and his biography mentions that he was awarded London Student of the Year for his contribution to the development of Braille lute tablature.

PGW