Lovesick scotting SIGCD736

Randall Scotting (countertenor)
Stephen Stubbs (lute)
rec. 2020, Allegro Studios, Los Angeles
Signum Classics SIGCD736 [57]

This is a recital of rarely heard seventeenth century songs, mostly English but with some exceptions which add extra interest. The colourful booklet contains an introductory essay by Randall Scotting himself and a longer, more detailed one by Wendy Heller, which make much of the pain that requitted and unrequited love can bring, as reflected in both words and music.

Heller comments, ‘The repertory presented is carefully chosen to express all manner of lovesickness’, remarking that the listener ‘is taken on an emotional journey’. The impassioned songs such composers as Dowland and the Lawes brothers fit this bill perfectly, but we are also treated to some traditional pieces such as the Irish song At the mid hour of the night, in which the poet yearns to ’revisit past scenes of delight’. We are offered songs in French such as by Moulinié which are in a freer, more recitativic style and songs in Italian by Cesti and by the little-known Daniele da Castrovillari from his opera Cleopatra.

Henry Lawes could without a doubt tug the heart strings; for example, I rise and grieve, a real gem, sung here with passion and drama by Scotting, is almost operatic in its scope. Scotting has an exceptionally beautiful tone, and his voice works well in such pieces but sometimes I feel it is too big, especially for the more reflective songs.

Stephen Stubbs, who has now such a history of fine music making in this type of repertoire, accompanies delightfully and is given a few opportunities to shine in solo numbers like Packington’s Round, in which he plays the more unusual bass lute.

 I especially appreciate having a sources list in the back of the booklet as well as all the texts in their original language and in English, although Scotting’s diction is exemplary. There is also a series of quotations entitled ‘Cure for Lovesickness through time’ about being in and out of love, some well over two thousand years old, even pre-dating Ovid, whose ‘The Art of Love’ is also quoted, right up to today, which just adds a little more to the pleasure of this entire project.

Gary Higginson

Previous review: Göran Forsling (March 2023)

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1. I’m sick of love: O let me lie (‘To the Sicamore’)
William Lawes (c. 1602–1645)
2. There’s none to soothe my soul to rest Edinburgh pub. 1821
Traditional Gaelic song arr. Robert A. Smith (1780–1829) | The Scottish Minstrel
3. Enfin la beauté que j’adore Paris 1624
Étienne Moulinié (1599–1676) | Airs avec la tablature de luth, v. 1
4. Perfect and endless circles are London c. 1645
William Lawes | The songbook of the Lady Anne Blount
5. When Orpheus sang all nature did rejoice Northampton 1689
Henry Purcell (1659–1695) | Celestial Music ye Gods Inspire
6. Suite from King Arthur for baroque guitar London 1691
Henry Purcell | ‘Your hay it is mowed’, ‘Fairest Isle’, ‘Come if you dare’
7. Tell me no more you love; in vain London 1700
John Blow (1649–1708) | Amphion Anglicus
8. ‘Intorno all’idol mio’ Innsbruck 1656
Marc’ Antonio Cesti (1623–1669) | from L’Orontea Act II scene 18
9. I rise and grieve London c. 1626
Henry Lawes (1596–1662) | Songs by Henry Lawes
10. At the mid hour of night London pub. 1813
Traditional Irish song arr. John Pyke Hullah (1812–1884) | Irish Melodies
11. She loves and she confesses too London 1683
Henry Purcell | Choice Ayres, book IV
12. Complaint: Fortune my foe for solo lute London pub. 1596
John Dowland (1563–1626) | New Booke of Tablature by William Barley
13. Time stands still London 1603
John Dowland | The Third and Last Booke of Songs or Aires
14. The self–banished London 1700
John Blow | Amphion Anglicus
15. Mary’s dream London 1774
Traditional Scottish ballad arr. Richard Langdon (1729–1803) | Divine Harmony
16. ‘Luci belle’ Venice 1662
Daniele da Castrovillari (1613–1678) | from La Cleopatra Act I scene 2
17. O, lead me to some peaceful gloom London 1695
Henry Purcell | incidental music from Bonduca
18. The three ravens London 1611
Traditional English ballad arr. Thomas Ravenscroft (c. 1588–1635) | Melismata
19. Packington’s Pound for solo bass lute London c. 1600
Anonymous | popular tune named after Sir John Packington (1549–1625)
20. Cessés mortels de soupirer Paris pub. 1613
Pierre Guédron (c. 1570–c. 1620) | Airs de differents autheurs, book IV
21. Black is the colour of my true love’s hair Glasgow (origin)
Traditional Scottish ballad arr. John Jacob Niles (1892–1980) Appalachia 1921
22. O solitude, my sweetest choice London 1687
Henry Purcell | Comes Amoris