John Dowland was a notorious sad sack, and it shows. Take "In darkness let me dwell," which he wrote in 1610: With lines like "The walls of marble black that moisten'd still shall weep" and "wedded to my woes, and bedded to my tomb, / O, let me, living, living, die, till death do come," it's three minutes of unrelenting mope.
Back in 2006, Sting recorded "In darkness let me dwell" on an album of Dowland songs with lutenist Edin Karamazov. To Sting, Dowland was a forerunner of sorts, "the first alienated singer-songwriter." He toured with his Dowland repertoire, including a concert at St. Luke's in London, broadcast on BBC3.
At that concert was Ian Bostridge, who's performing "In darkness let me dwell" on his own concert here at Carnegie Hall on November 28, accompanied by Thomas Adès. With Sting, it's easy to make the link between Dowland's melancholia and the last 30 years or so of British popular music, from The Smiths and Joy Division to Portishead—even Adele.
Bostridge shows us in his recital how the Dowland mentality permeates the Romantic art song of Schumann and Schubert, and resonates with music written more recently by composers like György Kurtág.
Related: November 28, Ian Bostridge and Thomas Adès