John Dowland’s Lachrimae Pavans – the ‘Seven Teares’, as he called them – grew out of the composer’s ‘Flow My Tears’, each pavan exploring further harmonic and contrapuntal possibilities, but in a manner which augmented the developments with keen emotional power. Performed here by a string quartet of violins, violas and bass violin, rather than lutes, the resonant drones emphasise the despair in Dowland’s work, contrasted with the cheerier consort pieces of contemporaries and antecedents such as Purcell, William Lawes and John Jenkins. The recurrent themes of Dowland’s suite wield a compelling emotional momentum in these performances by John Holloway’s ensemble, at once woeful and wonderful.
Andy Gill, the Independent
Ein faszinierend homogenes, streichquartettähnliches Klangbild ist entstanden. Allerdings wirkt das Farbamalgam durch das Übergewicht der Bratschen stark angedunkelt, was die Melancholie der Stücke unterstreicht, zugleich aber auch deren geballte Dissonanzenschärfe reduziert sowie alle Kontraste in Sfumato-Milde tunkt. Da der Pavanenfluss der ‚Tränen’ einem gleichmäßig langsamen Puls folgt, stellt sich sofort erhabene Ruhe ein. Man wünscht sich, sie würde niemals enden. Dieses Album ist wie geschaffen für die Repeatfunktion
Eleonore Büning, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung
The centerpiece of this fifty-minute program is John Dowland’s ‘Lachrimae Pavans’, a series of seven pavanes based on his own song ‘Flow My Tears’. Scored by Dowland for five viols and lute, they are transposed here for four violas and bass violin by the marvelous Baroque violinist John Holloway, and so offer a more varied tonal palette. […] the overall sense of melancholy is gloriously overwhelming. Dowland has split his harmonies with bitter dissonances at times – the sting of sadness is part of the experience, not just the drear. The music is so achingly beautiful that, oddly, it doesn’t have the same effect as, say, Shostaikovich’s wrist-slashing last quartet, and Holloway’s has broken up the seven Dowland pieces, placing another work of the period by different composer between each. Some are, if not exactly cheerful, at least in a different mode and style […] a ravishing listening experience, exactly the right length, played and recorded stunningly.
R. L., Listen
John Dowland’s ‚Lachrimae Pavans‘ punctuate this CD, always gently moving, given impetus by the interplay of parts, as the players come to prominence and give way to one another, constantly shifting from light to shade and back beneath the gentle surfaces. Works by Dowland’s near-contemporaries are interspersed between each musical essay on melancholy.
Tim Honfray, The Strad
Opening with Dowland’s celebrated ‘Lachrimae Pavans’, violinist John Holloway–leading a quintet of two violins, two violas, and bass viol, though the Dowland piece is played by four violas plus bass–presents a program that also features works by other English composers of roughly the same era (including Henry Purcell, John Jenkins, and Matthew Locke), all of them chosen to demonstrate the wide variety of tones and textures that emerged during this tremendously fertile period in English instrumental music. Holloway is no stranger to this repertoire, and he and his colleagues deliver these pieces in a pleasingly subdued but intense style. Highly recommended.
Rick Anderson, cdhotlist.com