Pavans and Fantasies from the Age of Dowland

John Holloway


John Dowland’s Lachrimae Pavans is considered one of the greatest works in the canon of English chamber music. Based upon his famous song “Flow My Teares”, the seven pavans – Seaven Teares, as Dowland called them – present an extraordinary exploration of the contrapuntal and harmonic possibilities offered by the theme. In this remarkable recording, baroque violinist John Holloway creates a concert programme around the lachrimae Pavans. Threaded between Dowland’s masterpieces are works of other major composers of his era – Henry Purcell, William Lawes, John Jenkins, Thomas Morley and Matthew Locke. In bringing together these works of strongly contrasting colour and character Holloway and company give us a vivid sense of the great flowering of consort music which took place in England in the 17th century.

John Dowlands “Lachrimae Pavans” gilt als eines der bedeutendsten Werke im Kanon der englischen Kammermusik. Basierend auf seinem berühmten Lied „Flow My Teares“ stellen diese sieben Pavanen – „Seven Teares“ („Sieben Tränen“), wie Dowland sie nannte – eine außergewöhnliche Form der Erforschung der kontrapunktischen und harmonischen Möglichkeiten eines vorgegebenen Themas dar. In dieser bemerkenswerten Aufnahme entwickelt der Barockgeiger John Holloway ein Konzertprogramm rund um die „Lachrimae Pavans“. Zwischen Dowlands Meisterstücke reihen sich hier Werke anderer wichtiger Komponisten dieser Ära: Henry Purcell, William Lawes, John Jenkins, Thomas Morley und Matthew Locke. Indem sie diese Werke sehr gegensätzlicher Färbung und unterschiedlichen Charakters hier kombinieren, geben uns Holloway und seine Mitmusiker einen lebendigen Eindruck von der Blüte der Consortmusik im England des 17. Jahrhunderts.
Featured Artists Recorded

March 2013, Radio Studio, Zürich

Original Release Date


  • 1Lachrimæ Antiquæ
    (John Dowland)
  • 2Fantasy upon one note
    (Henry Purcell)
  • 3Lachrimæ Antiquae Novæ
    (John Dowland)
  • 42 Airs for 4
    (William Lawes)
  • 5Lachrimæ Gementes
    (John Dowland)
  • 6Fantasy No. 12 for 2 Trebles and Bass
    (John Jenkins)
  • 7Lachrimæ Tristes
    (John Dowland)
  • 8Lamento for 2
    (Thomas Morley)
  • 9Lachrimæ Coactæ
    (John Dowland)
  • 10Fantasy for 2 Trebles and Bass
    (Matthew Locke)
  • 11Lachrimæ Amantis
    (John Dowland)
  • 12Fantasy in C for 5
    (William Lawes)
  • 13Lachrimæ Veræ
    (John Dowland)
The composition of Lachrimae Pavans, one of the great works in the canon of English chamber music, was begun in Denmark at the end of the 16th century, while John Dowland was working as a lutenist at the court of King Christian IV. A unique seven-part work developing a theme from Dowland’s famous song “Flow my teares” and exploring all its contrapuntal and harmonic possibilities, it is also music of persuasive emotional power. “How well he seems to have understood the power of music to move us,” writes John Holloway in the liner notes, and “to express otherwise inexpressible emotions. He called them ‘passionate pavans’, and within the stately constrained movements of the slow dance, passions are indeed to be found.”

The music, according to the title page of the folio volume, is “set forth for the lute, viols or violons”. Choosing to emphasize “violons” Holloway and company play the Dowland Pavans on four violas and bass violin; “As has been said of Dowland, his greatest works are inspired by a deeply felt tragic concept of life and a preoccupation with tears, sin, darkness and death. With that in mind, the choice of instruments made itself.”

In this recording, produced by Manfred Eicher at Zürich’s Radio Studio, John Holloway and his ensemble juxtaposed the Pavans with other pieces by Dowland’s contemporaries, in a programme with strong contrasts of character and sound colour – from Purcell’s extraordinary “Fantasy upon one note” to Thomas Morley’s haunting “Lament” – evoking the great flowering of English instrumental consort music of the late 16th and early 17th centuries.