John Dowland (1563-1626)
John Dowland was an English composer and lute virtuoso.
He wrote several books of songs for voice and lute accompaniment. The lute accompaniment in his songs is notable for its complexity and expressiveness.
“In Darkness Let Me Dwell” is one of Dowland’s songs for voice and lute accompaniment. The subject material is melancholy and that is typical of many of John Dowland’s songs. It is not known who wrote the texts to Dowland’s songs. Dowland was a master of word painting in his songs (emphasizing certain words by using dissonant harmonies, or raising and lowering the melodic line which includes leaping down to a low note or leaping up to a high note). The song “In Darkness” dates from about 1610 and is a late composition.
Here is a recording of “In Darkness Let Me Dwell” sung by Christian Hilz, Baritone, and accompanied on the lute by Rolf Lislevand on the lute. Listen to the beautiful melodic line and how expresive it is. Listen to the wonderful lute accompaniment, how complex it is, and how well it fits together with the vocal line. I chose this song for my blog because I think it is one of Dowland’s most beautiful songs in his entire output. His music is old but does not sound dated at all. I think it sounds quite modern compared to some of the music written during Dowland’s lifetime.