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Rare 1950s Dowland recording found

An enquiry from a young student tenor has led to the re-discovery of a rare recording of John Dowland songs by Richard Lewis during the early 1950s for now-defunct label London Records.

Sebastian Tucker, who is studying in London at the moment, wrote to the founder of the Richard Lewis Trust, Elizabeth Muir-Lewis, in June this year asking if there were any Dowland recordings available by the singer.

“At first I said that I was very sorry but no, I didn’t think there were,” says Elizabeth. “But then just after I put down the phone it came back to me and I phoned Sebastian to tell him that I thought there might be.

“I had remembered that, when I first met Richard in 1958 one of the first recordings of his that I heard was an LP with Dowland songs on it – and to my amazement I managed to find a copy in my garage.”

The LP (London Records TW91067) which is thought to have been recorded and released in either 1952 or 1953, includes seven Dowland songs with Jacqueline Bonneau on the piano – an accompanist who Richard worked with frequently during his career. The Dowland songs featured are:

  • Weep Ye No More, Sad Fountains

  • Come Away, Come Sweet Love

  • Dear, If You Change

  • A Shepherd in the Shade

  • Flow Not So Fast, Ye Fountains

  • Whoever Thinks or Hopes of Love For Love

  • Sorrow Stay

One person who bought the LP is novelist Margaret Drabble, who during her appearance on Desert Island Discs in May 1968 picked Weep Ye No More, Said Fountains as her sixth track, alongside Monteverdi, Bach and the Beatles.

Sebastian Tuckman also clearly treasures the recording, a digital copy of which Elizabeth made for him, telling Elizabeth “thank you very much for the recordings which I found fascinating. I was particularly moved by Sorrow Stay. I like to hear Dowland with piano accompaniment rather than lute or guitar despite being a guitarist myself.”

Listen to a track off the album on Soundcloud:

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