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Tuesday, Feb. 8, 2011

The English Renaissance Made Plaine & Easie

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Renaissance England has grasped popular imagination for a very long time and while lauded on stage, screen and in the concert hall. Early Music Now welcomes four special guest artists collectively known as Plaine & Easie to Milwaukee to further such renown. Winners of Early Music America’s 2009 Unicorn Prize, with “daring improvisational arrangements and a captivating onstage chemistry, the ensemble of soprano, lute, off-shoulder violin and five-string bass violin has won praise for its virtuosity and expressive flair” (EMN).

Plaine & Easie’s program centers on English music of the Elizabethan Era. Certainly the great John Dowland (1563-1626) consumes proper attention. The most stylish composer of his time, he took “Semper Dowland, semper dolens” as his motto and, indeed, many of his works are delicately dolorous. There are also numerous other works originating elsewhere in Europe but that are also popular in the British Isles. Hence we also hear from composers such as Orlando di Lasso (1532-94), Pierre Guédron (1570-1620), Giovanni Bassano (1558-1617) and Johann Schop (1590-1667).

Interestingly, concertgoers hear not only Dowland’s most famous work (and one of the most celebrated compositions of the late Renaissance), Flow My Tears (aka Lachrimae Pavane), but also Schop’s take thereupon, whose “treatment of the theme shows not only a good example of improvisatory style,” as program writer John Lenti explains, “but demonstrates the currency that (Flow My Tears) retained on the continent even a few decades after its composition.”

This concert takes place at All Saints’ Cathedral (818 E. Juneau Ave.) on Feb. 12.
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