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Iestyn Davies releases “The Art of Melancholy” CD March 31, plus U.S. tour

Following his lauded return to the Met in Britten’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, countertenor Iestyn Davies – “one of the most memorable presences on the scene right now” (New York Times) and winner of the 2012 Gramophone Recital Award for his second solo Hyperion album – releases his new Hyperion album Dowland: The Art of Melancholy, an exploration of the music of John Dowland with lutenist Thomas Dunford, on March 31. The launch of the CD coincides with a major North American recital tour that takes Davies and Dunford to Carnegie’s Weill Recital Hall (April 10), Washington’s Vocal Arts DC (April 8), Berkeley’s CAL Performances (March 28), and four stops in Canada from Vancouver to Banff (March 30–April 5). As well as music from the CD, the tour will feature the first American performances of a new commission from Nico Muhly.
The album comprises songs by John Dowland, who has long featured in Davies’s recital programs. Davies explains, “The seeds of the art song were essentially sown in the Elizabethan era and John Dowland is the greatest exponent of this lute song genre.”
After a recent performance, The Guardian marveled at “the immaculate sound of Davies’s countertenor… His delivery seems understated, yet every syllable and emotion is carefully focused [so] as to draw the listener into the heart of the music; melancholic anguish in the case of John Dowland.” As on the recording, Davies will be accompanied on tour by Thomas Dunford, the “Eric Clapton of the lute” (BBC Music Magazine). Davies and Dunford’s partnership has been widely celebrated; York Press lauded “Dunford’s remarkably sensitive accompaniment,” while the Birmingham Post admired the “understated rapport…that helped them craft [Dowland’s] songs together as one.”
The North American tour, which includes concerts at CAL Performances in Berkeley on March 28, Washington’s Vocal Arts DC on April 8, and Carnegie’s Weill Recital Hall on April 10, bears the name of one of Dowland’s most famous songs, “Flow my Tears.” The tour program juxtaposes the Dowland rep from the CD with music from Dowland’s Elizabethan contemporaries Robert Johnson, John Danyel, and Thomas Campion, and features the first American performances of a new commission from Nico Muhly. Titled Old Bones (2013), Muhly’s new piece was inspired by the recently unearthed skeleton of Richard III. Davies has said that in Old Bones, “Muhly reveals a great understanding of the countertenor voice and its relationship with the lute in a mesmerizing piece of great immediacy.” In addition to touring the U.S., Davies and Dunford will bring “Flow my Tears” to Canada, with performances in Vancouver (March 30 & 31), Calgary (April 4), and Banff (April 5).
On February 18, Davies also releases Handel: Your Tuneful Voice-Oratorio Arias, a CD from Vivat on which Robert King and The King’s Consort accompany him for a wide-ranging selection of arias from Handel’s oratorios, already receiving high praise in the UK. Britain’s Sunday Times named it Disc of the Week, and The Independent noted Davies’s “grace and calm entirely appropriate to these Handel arias.” The Daily Telegraph remarked that “The joy of listening to Davies…is that he cherishes the words while negotiating the technical hurdles with amazing fluency and consistency of timbre. He never forces the tone in the voice’s upper reaches, and seems so thoroughly attuned to the style and sense of the music that he is also able to bring brilliance of character to it as well.” 
Then, on March 4, Davies releases Arise My Muse, a performance of music from late 17th-century London with Richard Egarr on harpsichord, from Wigmore Hall Live.  London’s Marylebone Journal marveled, “With works like Purcell’s Arise, my muse and If Music be the Food of Love as well as lesser known gems, the programme is guaranteed to show why Davies is in such high demand here and internationally.”
Details of Iestyn Davies’s upcoming engagements are provided below, and more information is available at the artist’s web site:
Iestyn Davies: upcoming engagements 2014
Feb 9
Tudeley, Kent, UK
Tudeley Festival
“Flow my Tears”: recital with Thomas Dunford, lute
Feb 28; March 2, 4, 6, 8, 11, 13 & 15
London, UK
English National Opera
Handel: Rodelinda (Bertarido)
March 20 & 21
Lisbon, Portugal
Gulbenkian Orchestra / Paul McCreesh
Handel: Solomon (title role)
March 28
Berkeley, CA
CAL Performances
“Flow my Tears”: recital with Thomas Dunford, lute
March 30
Vancouver, British Columbia
Vancouver Recital Society
“Flow my Tears”: recital with Thomas Dunford, lute
March 31
Vancouver, British Columbia
Vancouver Recital Society
April 4
Calgary, Alberta
Christ Church
“Flow my Tears”: recital with Thomas Dunford, lute
April 5
Banff, Alberta
“Flow my Tears”: recital with Thomas Dunford, lute
April 8
Washington, DC
Vocal Arts DC
“Flow my Tears”: recital with Thomas Dunford, lute
April 10
New York, NY
Carnegie Hall (Weill Recital Hall)
“Flow my Tears”: recital with Thomas Dunford, lute
April 16–20
On tour with Britten Sinfonia Voices
Bach: St. John Passion
April 16: Cambridge, UK (West Road Concert Hall)
April 17: Amsterdam, Holland (Concertgebouw)
April 18: London, UK (Barbican Hall)
April 20: Norwich, UK (Norwich Theatre Royal)
May 1
London, UK
LSO St. Luke’s
Aurora Orchestra / Nicholas Collon
May 17
Cologne, Germany
Recital with Malcolm Martineau, piano
June 11
Cologne, Germany
Handel Festspiele Halle
Handel: Solomon (title role)
With Kölner Kammerchor
June 15
London, UK
Wigmore Hall
CD launch recital
with Thomas Dunford, lute
June 22-24
London, UK
Wigmore Hall
Dunedin Consort
Aug 9-24 (seven performances)
Glyndebourne, Sussex, UK
Glyndebourne Festival
Handel: Rinaldo (title role)
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© 21C Media Group, February 2014

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