Dowland and Beyond was the theme of tenor Mark Padmore's programme, featuring the Elizabethan/Jacobean lutenist and songwriter John Dowland, and those inspired by him. It suggested the continuity of a thread of introverted melancholy running through so much English music over the last 400 years.
For most of the concert Padmore was partnered by the lutenist and theorbo player Elizabeth Kenny, whose delicate playing of some of the quietest instruments ever heard in this venue took a few minutes to get used to. Once your ears had adjusted, her musicianship became strikingly apparent, whether in her intricately woven accompaniments, or in her colourful solo items – a trio of pieces by Hieronymus Kapsberger.
Lawrence Power's potent viola fleshed out Britten's Lachrymae, reflections on Dowland's song If My Complaints Could Passions Move, with an eloquence that never undermined the work's reticence. His accompanist, Andrew West, moved on to a shining account of Thomas Adès's 1992 Darknesse Visible, inspired by Dowland's In Darkness Let Me Dwell, its sparse distribution of notes at either end of the keyboard immaculately positioned.
But the bulk of the programme fell to Padmore and Kenny, intimately attuned to one another in their interpretations of songs by Dowland, his lesser-known colleague John Danyel and successor Henry Lawes, as well as some of their Italian contemporaries. Padmore's ability to meld words and notes into a single vocal gesture was outstanding, making of each item a small but sharply delineated act of interior revelation.