Lachrimæ Lyræ

Lachrimæ Lyræ: Tears of Exile
Sokratis Sinopoulos, Lacheron, François Joubert-Caillet
Outhere/Fuga Libera, FUG 753. 65’38

If you thought the sound of a consort of viols was etherial, plaintive and evocative, wait till you hear this exotic combination of a viol consort combined with a Greek lyra. Taking John Dowland’s 1604 Lachrimæ or Seaven Teares as its point of departure, the recording aims to “paint a transverse and stateless picture of melancholy, set against the joyful hope of a shining future that appears in these improvisations and timeless Anglo-Byzantine dances”.

In his programme note, François Joubert-Caillet comments that the Greek lyra (an instrument dating back to the Mycenaean occupation of Crete around 1400 BCE) and the viola da gamba are like “sisters unknown to each other, each evolving as an echo of the other several centuries apart and in very different parts of the world”. That they do have similar musical roots and playing technicalities is a reasonable assumption, but the link is otherwise tenuous. And their combines link to themes of ‘exile’ are even harder to fathom out. That said, the recording is well worth a listen. 

Interspersed alongside the Dowland pieces are a series of five evocative improvisations. To some extent these are more succesful than the Dowland transcriptions, the tang of the Greek lyra being more suited to the style than as a replacement for the gentle sound of a treble viol. But despite 

More information can be found here, and a generouse 10′ video introducing the sound of the Greek lyra with the viol consort (and some tumbledown rooms in a French chateau) can be viewed here.