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Well-Tuned Words | Great Wonder

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Great Wonder

by Well-Tuned Words

Songs with lute accompaniment by the greatest songwriters of Shakespeare's day--John Dowland, Thomas Campion, and John Danyel--performed by Amanda Sidebottom and Erik Ryding.
Genre: Classical: Renaissance
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  Song Share Time Download
1. Never Weather-Beaten Sail
2:30 $0.99
2. Oft Have I Sighed
2:10 $0.99
3. The Peaceful Western Wind
3:38 $0.99
4. If My Complaints
3:02 $0.99
5. Orlando Sleepeth
1:30 $0.99
6. His Golden Locks
3:24 $0.99
7. Can She Excuse
2:52 $0.99
8. Thou Pretty Bird
1:29 $0.99
9. He Whose Desires
2:13 $0.99
10. Why Canst Thou Not
1:36 $0.99
11. I Must Complain
3:00 $0.99
12. Mrs. Winter's Jump
1:01 $0.99
13. I Saw My Lady Weep
4:47 $0.99
14. Wilt Thou, Unkind, Thus Reave Me
3:04 $0.99
15. I Must Complain
2:06 $0.99
16. Come Let Us Sound
3:03 $0.99
17. It Fell On a Summer's Day
2:31 $0.99
18. Shall I Come, Sweet Love, To Thee
3:00 $0.99
19. Mr. Dowland's Midnight
1:15 $0.99
20. Go, Crystal Tears
2:48 $0.99
21. Now, O Now, I Needs Must Part
4:25 $0.99
Downloads are available as MP3-320 files.


Album Notes
“But singing to the lute with the ditty (methink) is more pleasant than the rest, for it addeth to the words such a grace and strength, that it is a great wonder.” —Baldassare Castiglione, The Courtier (1528); English translation by Thomas Hoby, 1561

Throughout the sixteenth century, songs to the accompaniment of a lute—or its Spanish counterpart, the
vihuela—enjoyed great popularity. Already in the early days of printed music, lute-song collections, beginning in 1509, issued from the press in Italy, Germany, and France; Spain would soon follow with printed vihuela songs, starting in 1536. Oddly enough, while songs to the lute were surely popular in Tudor England, printed collections of such songs were slow in coming. It was only in 1597 that the first collection of English lute songs appeared: John Dowland’s First Book of Songs or Ayres. The excellence of those songs, however, more than made up for their late arrival, almost every song being a miniature masterpiece. Thomas Campion noted the superlative quality and special nature of the collection in a commendatory Latin poem at the beginning of the volume.

And Campion himself would soon follow Dowland’s lead, becoming one of the most prolific lute-song composers of the day. But his connection to Dowland predated the publication of that benchmark collection. Already in 1595, before either composer had committed any songs to print, Campion expressed his profound admiration for Dowland as a virtuoso lute player in a rhapsodic Latin poem comparing Dowland to Orpheus. It’s evident that the two were friends, and Dowland, like several other of his contemporaries, plainly esteemed Campion’s verse, publishing a setting of the poet’s “I Must Complain” in 1603.

Like many other Renaissance thinkers, Campion was a staunch classicist, officially rejecting any artistic venture that smacked of the Middle Ages. The poems that he took pains to publish as poetry were his now-forgotten neo-Latin epigrams, not the still-anthologized lyrics to his English songs, which he dismissed, perhaps disingenuously, as “ear-pleasing rhymes without art.” In fact, his public classicizing reached its peak in 1602, when he brought out his Observations in the Art of English Poesie, a tract in which he condemned rhyme as a medieval barbarism and advocated instead an English poetry based on the structural principles of non-rhyming ancient Greek and Latin verse.

Campion’s treatise prompted an immediate response from the poet Samuel Daniel, who countered it the following year in his Defense of Rhyme. In it, Daniel offered some commonsense arguments in favor of rhyme and dealt a crushing blow to his adversary by pointing out that Campion himself was most admired for his excellent rhyming English verse. As it happens, Samuel Daniel was well acquainted with lute songs and their lyrics: his brother, John Danyel (current usage favors different spellings of their family name), was himself a lute-song composer—arguably the finest after Dowland. He set Samuel’s verses to music, and the brothers collaborated on at least one masque.

This collection brings together some of the finest songs by Dowland, Campion, and Danyel—all three born within three years of Shakespeare’s birth and all three admired as among the greatest songwriters of Shakespeare’s England.

Soprano Amanda Sidebottom is known for her “luminous,” clear tone and versatile musicianship. Based in New York City, she is an active soloist, choral singer, and chamber musician, performing music ranging from Renaissance polyphony to newly commissioned works. Amanda has performed solos with the Mark Morris Dance Group under Mark Morris (Vivaldi’s Gloria, Bach’s Jesu, meine Freude), the American Classical Orchestra (Handel’s Messiah), and the Cathedral Choir of St. John the Divine under Kent Tritle (Scarlatti’s Stabat Mater, Charpentier’s Te Deum). Other recent solo credits include Bach’s St. John Passion and Boismortier’s Le Printemps.

With Well-Tuned Words, which she and Erik Ryding formed in 2011, Amanda has performed recitals on both coasts of the United States—including fringe concerts at the Berkeley Festival and the Boston Early Music Festival—as well as in Europe, with concerts in Milan (Sforza Castle), Paris, Amsterdam, Basel, and Berlin. In addition to the duo’s performances in concert, Well-Tuned Words has made several videos, featured on the Quill Classics YouTube channel.

Amanda collaborates frequently with the period-instrument chamber ensembles The Soul’s Delight and Brooklyn Baroque, with recent concerts in Washington, DC, upstate New York, and upper Manhattan at the eighteenth-century Morris-Jumel Mansion. A founding member of Etherea Vocal Ensemble, she can be heard on the group’s debut album, Ceremony of Carols, which charted on both iTunes and Billboard Classical, and its newest release, Hymn to the Dawn (both on the Delos label).

Among the highlights of Amanda’s 2013–14 season were a second European tour with Well-Tuned Words and harpsichordist Rebecca Pechefsky, and appearances with the American Classical Orchestra Choir in concerts of Bach and Handel, including Samson with Nicholas McGegan.

An avid proponent of historical performance, she has worked with such luminaries as William Christie, Ellen Hargis, Stephen Stubbs, and Grant Herreid, and has been invited to participate in workshops in Vancouver, Seattle, and Boston.

Sought after as a choral singer, Amanda can be heard in several ensembles, among them Yale Choral Artists, which in its 2012 debut season featured collaborations with William Christie and the Mark Morris Dance Group. She joined the Santa Fe Desert Chorale in its summer 2013 season and has been a guest chorister with the Trinity Wall Street Choir (Bach’s Mass in B Minor; Bach at One series) and with Holy Trinity Lutheran’s Bach Choir in its long-running Sunday Vespers series (specializing in Bach’s cantatas).

Opera credits include The Child in Ravel’s L’Enfant et les sortilèges, Belinda in Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas, and Cupid in John Blow’s Venus and Adonis. Amanda holds degrees in early music and vocal performance from Indiana University, where she studied voice with Paul Elliott and was coached on lute-song repertoire by Nigel North, and DePauw University.

Born in New York City, Erik Ryding began music studies at age nine, when his father gave him his first lessons on the harpsichord. In high school he performed in an electric-guitar duo and also studied classical guitar with William Hellermann; he later studied with jazz guitarist Lou Mecca. In his late teens, he settled on the lute, studying with Frank Eyler in New York and participating in master classes with Eugen Dombois in the Netherlands. As an undergraduate, he majored in music and English, giving early-music performances in the New York area and accompanying many singers. He later studied lute in Basel, Switzerland, with Anthony Bailes, taking a particular interest in historical techniques and ornamentation. In 1979 and 1981 he toured Germany, performing with the soprano and lutenist Cornelia Praetorius.

Though he continued to play the lute while finishing his dissertation at Columbia University—a thesis on Renaissance music and poetry, later published as In Harmony Framed: Musical Humanism, Thomas Campion, and the Two Daniels—in the mid-1980s he began to suffer severe back pain, which eventually forced him to stop playing altogether. In 2008, however, after hearing a performance by the 93-year-old Les Paul, he determined to return to the lute, teaching himself how to play standing up, which put less stress on his back. He began collaborating with Amanda Sidebottom in 2010, and they formed Well-Tuned Words in 2011. Since its formation, the duo has performed frequently, with concerts on both coasts of the United States as well as in Milan, Paris, Amsterdam, Basel, and Berlin.

Erik taught literature for a decade and a half, specializing in the Renaissance, before beginning a new life in the frenetic music business—a period culminating in seven years at Carnegie Hall. With his wife, the harpsichordist Rebecca Pechefsky, he co-authored the award-winning biography Bruno Walter: A World Elsewhere (Yale University Press). For years he gave annual pre-concert lectures on different lute-song collections performed by My Lord Chamberlain’s Consort. His other lectures include the pre-concert talks on Mahler’s Eighth Symphony for Lorin Maazel’s final appearances as music director of the New York Philharmonic.



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