Musical Banquet

Monika Mauch, Nigel North

Music for voice and lute, from the songbook compiled by Robert Dowland (1591-1641), son of the great English lutenist-composer. Selections include music by John Dowland, Guillaume Tessier, Daniel Batchelar, Giulio Caccini, Pierre Guédron and more. Crystal clear delivery of the songs by Monika Mauch, last heard on ECM with the Hilliard Ensemble on “Morimur” and peerless lute-playing from early music expert Nigel North who makes his ECM debut here, and also contributes liner notes.

Featured Artists Recorded

May 2005, Propstei St. Gerold

Original Release Date


  • 1Passava Amor su arco desarmado (Love walked by unarmed)
    (Anonymous, Jorge de Montemayor)
  • 2Lady if you so spite me
    (John Dowland, Anonymous)
  • 3Dovrò dunque morire? (Must I then die?)
    (Giulio Caccini, Anonymous)
  • 4Amarilli mia bella (My fair Amaryllis)
    (Giulio Caccini, Giovanni Battista Guarini)
  • 5Si le parler et le silence (If words and silence)
    (Pierre Guédron, Anonymous)
  • 6Se di farmi morire (If you think to cause my death)
    (Domenico Maria Megli, Anonymous)
  • 7O eyes, leave off your weeping
    (Robert Hales, Anonymous)
  • 8Vuestros ojos tienen d'Amor (Your eyes hold I know not what of Love)
  • 9In a grove most rich of shade
    (Guillaume Tessier, Sir Philip Sidney)
  • 10Lady Rich, her Galliard
    (John Dowland)
  • 11Go my flock, go get you hence
    (Anonymous, Sir Philip Sidney)
  • 12O bella più che le stelle (Oh fairer than the stars of Diana)
  • 13My heavy sprite
    (Anthony Holborne, George Clifford)
  • 14Galliard
    (Daniel Batchelar)
  • 15To plead my faith
    (Daniel Batchelar, Robert Devereux)
  • 16Ce penser qui sans fin tirannise ma vie (This thought which endlessly governs my life)
    (Pierre Guédron, Anonymous)
  • 17O dear life, when shall it be?
    (Anonymous, Sir Philip Sidney)
  • 18Sir Robert Sidney, his Galliard
    (John Dowland)
  • 19Change thy mind since she doth change
    (Richard Martin, Robert Devereux)
  • 20Sir Thomas Monson, his Pavin and Galliard
    (Robert Dowland)
  • 21Vous que le Bonheur rappelle (You whom Happiness recalls)
    (Pierre Guédron, Anonymous)
  • 22In darkness let me dwell
    (John Dowland, Anonymous)
  • 23Sta notte mi sognava (Last night I dreamed)
  • 24Far from triumphing court
    (John Dowland, Sir Henry Lee)
Mauch has a clear but beautifully rounded timbre, and excels at creating an intimate atmosphere. I particularly like her unobtrusive but telling crescendos on single notes. It’s hard to say where she’s most at home, for there’s at least one song in each language that captures the idiom perfectly. … Nigel North is in tune with Mauch’s moods, and though he seldom draws attention to himself, his solo turns are most stylish and pick out contrapuntal lines with little apparent effort. The recorded sound matches the interpretations for warmth, space and detail. This will certainly be on my personal short list for pick of the year.
Fabrice Fitch, Gramophone
The songs are presented in a carefully rearranged sequence which juggles the English, French, Spanish and Italian songs that Robert and John Dowland gathered in groups by nationality, interspersed with several carefully chosen lute solos… Monika Mauch is a superb, understated interpreter of these songs, and less is definitely more here. Her unaccented pronunciation of all of the four languages is perfect, and every word of text is perfectly delivered. … This is an essential library record for anyone interested in the lute song, beautifully sung (and beautifully played by Nigel North), and a jolly good listen as a programme, of course.
David Hill, Early Music Review
Monika Mauch has a voice of pure honey – nectar and consummate refinement, an epicurean marvel – while Nigel North serves up lute playing of matchless delectability, musical ambrosia of rare perfection. Here is music-making on which one could gorge all day and yet never feel sated. Banquets, musical or otherwise, couldn’t be more sumptuous. … Dowland suggests that his ‘careful Confectionary’ is of such quality that nobody should ‘feare poysoning’, but, mixed with the delicious artistry of Mauch and North it does become dangerously addictive.
Marc Rochester, International Record Review
Monika Mauchs Sopran bewegt sich mit kristallklarer Schönheit und wunderbarer Natürlichkeit durch diese multilinguale, teils überraschend abgründige Liebes-Lyrik. Lauten-Koryphäe Nigel North begleitet so unprätentiös wie präzise und darf in einigen Solostücken sein ganzes Können zeigen.
Dirk Wieschollek, Fono Forum
24 Madrigale und Lautenstücke aus der Zeit der Renaissance und des Frühbarock erreichen uns auf „Musical Banquet“. Es sind Lieder mit kunstreicher Struktur und mit volkstümlich anmutender Melodik. Sopranistin Monika Mauch haucht den alten Gesängen mit gefühlvollem, nuanciertem und stilistisch variablem Ausdruck, mit dosiert eingesetztem Vibrato und stimmlicher Präsenz neues Leben ein. Die virtuose Lautenbegleitung durch Nigel North schmeichelt dem Ohr dank der klanglichen Trasparenz mit seidenen und perlenden Tönen.
Uwe Rauschelbach, Mannheimer Morgen
Monika Mauch interprète ces miniatures succulentes avec grâce et raffinement, ciselant avec une égale precision les agreements du gout français et les ornements de la “nouvelle manière” italienne. … L’excellent Nigel North offre un accompagnement efficace et intelligent, et se distingue par un jeu d’une impressionnante clarté jusque dans les polyphonies les plus complexes. Il peut surtout briller à son aise dans les suaves pièces pour luth de John Dowland, judicieusement proposées en guise de complément de programme.
Denis Morrier, Diapason
In 1610, Robert Dowland published his anthology "A Musical Banquet", a unique collection of lute songs from England, France, Italy, and Spain, which was the first publication of its kind to contain songs in four different languages and styles. Robert Dowland (1586-1641) was the son of the famous and highly esteemed lutenist and lute composer, John Dowland (1563-1626). In 1610, John Dowland returned to London, having left his court position in Denmark. He continued waiting for a position at the English court, but it was not until 1612 that his talents were finally recognised. Since Robert Dowland was only 19 when he published the collection, it is most likely that the book is a collaboration of father and son.

Of the English Ayres in The Musical Banquet three are by John Dowland himself, including the famous and intensely melancholy "In darkness let me dwell". Two other themes characterise the songs which Robert Dowland chose: settings of Philip Sidney’s poem "Astrophil and Stella" one of many love poems about Sidney’s unfulfilled love for Penelope, Lady Rich. Secondly there is Robert Devereux, the Earl of Essex, the most notorious of Queen Elizabeth’s young favourites.

John Dowland had travelled widely in Europe, and the English court was itself truly international with many visitors from abroad, so it is not at all surprising to find such gems as the exquisite French Airs by Guédron, versions of Italian monodic songs by the renowned Giulio Caccini (including "Amarilli, mia bella") side by side with the lyrical and rhythmically stimulating songs from Spain by anonymous composers.

Monika Mauch’s and Nigel North’s subtle recording of this important cross section of Renaissance European song offers a welcome addition to the ECM discography which has addressed music from the period around 1600 since almost twenty years. The first two issues of John Potter’s Dowland project were dedicated to the music of John Dowland and his English and Italian contemporaries while both Rolf Lislevand’s “Nuove musiche” (which borrowed its title from Giulio Caccini’s famous publication) and Steven Stubbs’ “Teatro Lirico” based their improvisational music on instrumental scores from the same era.