Images of Melancholy
The English Fantasy Consort of Viols
with reader John Line

Extended readings from the Corpus Hermeticum with music by John Dowland, Anthony Holborne, Giles Farnaby and Andrew Wilson-Dickson.


Fiona Huggett - treble viol
Angela Voss - treble and tenor viols
Pamela Cresswell - tenor viol
Rosemary Thorndycraft - bass violImogen
Seth-Smith - bass viol

With Lynda Sayce - lute,
Andrew Wilson-Dickson - organ,
and John Line, reader.

'In Elizabethan and Jacobean England the artistic cult of melancholy was not just an aesthetic conceit, but arose from ancient philosophical speculation on the dual nature of the human soul, which struggled to find its divine nature in the darkness of the material world. One of the most influental texts was the Corpus Hermeticum attributed to the legendary Egyptian sage Hermes Trismegistus, and handed down in the Renaissance via the translation of Marsilio Ficino. In this recording, we alternate readings from this text with music based on John Dowland's famous Lachrimae theme, including his Lachrimae or Seaven Teares of 1604 for five viols and lute, and other pieces by Giles Farnaby, Anthony Holborne, Thomas Weelkes and the contemporary composer Andrew Wilson-Dickson.

Our programme evokes a journey of the soul, from its creation to its return to God, and Dowland reminds us that "though the title doth promise teares, unfit guests in these joyfull times, yet no doubt pleaseant are the teares which Musicke weepes, neither are teares shed alwayes in sorrowe, but sometime in joy and gladnesse." ' [Extract from the programme notes by Angela Voss].

The readings are taken from 'The Way of Hermes' by Clem Salaman, Dorine van Oyen and William D Wharton. Together music and words provide a meditative programme which instils the wisdom of one of the prime works of western philosophy.