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Songs from the Labyrinth

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Audio CD, October 10, 2006
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Songs from this album are available to purchase as MP3s. Click on "Buy MP3" or view the MP3 Album.

Song TitleArtist Time Price
listen  1. WalsinghamEdin Karamazov0:38$0.99  Buy MP3 
listen  2. Can She Excuse My Wrongs?Edin Karamazov 2:35$0.99  Buy MP3 
listen  3. "Ryght Honorable: As I Have Bin Most Bounde Unto Your Honor..."Sting0:40$0.99  Buy MP3 
listen  4. Flow My TearsEdin Karamazov 4:42$0.99  Buy MP3 
listen  5. Have You Seen The Bright Lily GrowEdin Karamazov 2:35$0.99  Buy MP3 
listen  6. "...Then In Time Passing One Mr. Johnson Died..."Sting0:32$0.99  Buy MP3 
listen  7. The Most High And Mighty Christianus The Forth, King Of Denmark, His GalliardEdin Karamazov 3:01$0.99  Buy MP3 
listen  8. The Lowest Trees Have TopsEdin Karamazov 2:16$0.99  Buy MP3 
listen  9. "...And Accordinge As I Desired Ther Cam A Letter..."Sting0:55$0.99  Buy MP3 
listen10. Fine Knacks For LadiesEdin Karamazov 1:50$0.99  Buy MP3 
listen11. "...From Thence I Went To The Landgrave Of Hessen..."Sting0:24$0.99  Buy MP3 
listen12. FantasyEdin Karamazov 2:43$0.99  Buy MP3 
listen13. Come Heavy SleepEdin Karamazov 3:46$0.99  Buy MP3 
listen14. Forlorn Hope FancyEdin Karamazov 3:08$0.99  Buy MP3 
listen15. "...And From Thence I Had Great Desire To See Italy..."Edin Karamazov0:28$0.99  Buy MP3 
listen16. Come AgainEdin Karamazov 2:56$0.99  Buy MP3 
listen17. Wilt Thou Unkind Thus Reave MeEdin Karamazov 2:40$0.99  Buy MP3 
listen18. "...After My Departure I Caled To Mynde Our Conference..."Sting0:29$0.99  Buy MP3 
listen19. Weep You No More, Sad FountainsEdin Karamazov 2:39$0.99  Buy MP3 
listen20. My Lord Willoughby's Welcome HomeEdin Karamazov 1:34$0.99  Buy MP3 
listen21. Clear Or CloudyEdin Karamazov 2:47$0.99  Buy MP3 
listen22. "...Men Say That The Kinge Of Spain Is Making Gret Preparation..."Sting 1:01$0.99  Buy MP3 
listen23. In Darkness Let Me DwellEdin Karamazov 4:12$0.99  Buy MP3 

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Composer, singer, author, actor, activist – Sting was born in Newcastle, England before moving to London in 1977 to form The Police with Stewart Copeland and Andy Summers. The band released five albums, earned six Grammy awards, and in 2003 was inducted into The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

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Product Details

  • Performer: Sting, Edin Karamazov
  • Composer: John Dowland
  • Audio CD (October 10, 2006)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Deutsche Grammophon
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (204 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #32,289 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Editorial Reviews

Product Description

This autumn Sting ventures into "new" musical territory with an album featuring the music of acclaimed Elizabethan songwriter, John Dowland (1563-1626). Sting is joined on this recording by much-admired lutenist Edin Karamazov, in what he describes as "a soundtrack to Dowland's life in words and music". Songs from the Labyrinth will appear on Deutsche Grammophon, the world's most celebrated classical-music record-label. It is extracts from this extraordinary letter which Sting incorporates into this album as short recitations, re-creating a flavour of Dowland's life and times. Sting said "This project was never really meant to be a record. It was a labour of love. I wanted to learn these songs, and out of curiosity, Edin and I just kept going. I think it only became a record when we decided to put extracts of this letter in. Those that are familiar with John Dowland normally think of him as being this melancholy, doom-laden character; but he can write songs that are absolutely joyful - full of passion and happiness. He has it all." Sting continues, "I'm not a trained singer for this repertoire, but I'm hoping that I can bring some freshness to these songs that perhaps a more experienced singer wouldn't give. For me they are pop songs written around 1600 and I relate to them in that way; beautiful melodies, fantastic lyrics, and great accompaniments."

In choosing to cover the music of John Dowland (1563-1626), who is known as the "melancholy madrigalist" from his output of cheerful ditties like "Flow My Tears," Police bandleader Sting has entered into a whole new realm of austere eeriness. Originally inspired by the gift of a lute, the rock superstar and activist sings the songs, deliciously sweet and tender or spirited by turn, accompanying himself, with Edin Karamazov sitting on lute and archlute. For listeners accustomed to hearing material of this period interpreted by rigorously trained early music stylists, especially countertenors and the like, Sting's sometimes tight-jawed, chest-heavy vocals may seem amateurish. It's undeniable that in four-part harmonies, the singer, tightly overdubbed, comes across like a combination of the Swingle Singers and Queen (meaning Freddy Mercury and crew, NOT the first Elizabeth). But it's important to remember that music of this period was routinely heard as a casual diversion in private homes, even more often than at Court. It was considered a crucial social skill to be able to join in with an adequate degree of skill, but not everyone was able to negotiate the perilous melodic twists and turns typical of the era's music. With this in mind, the overall effect is of a candle-lit, postprandial entertainment in the home of an English gentleman. Muttered readings from Dowland's letters and brief snippets of sampled birdsong aside, it is a courageous effort, displaying heartfelt admiration for the composer and a considerable degree of earnest charm. --Christina Roden

Customer Reviews

I love that Sting is spreading this beautiful music.
Ariella Vaccarino creator of Voice Lessons To Go v.1 &2
When I got this album and before listening to it, I was pleasently surprised, thinking, gosh I didn't know Sting was well-versed in early music.
J. Davis
If you like Sting, and truly love music, this is beautifully done.
Debra Bond

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

59 of 65 people found the following review helpful By Rebecca Huston on November 11, 2006
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
When I heard that Sting was coming out with a new collection of music, I tried to stop my giddy grin, and went on and preordered it. When I opened it up, I was hit with a bit of surprise. For one, it was released on the Deusche Grammophon label, which usually devote themselves to classical works. Looking closer I saw that it was not an array of pop songs, but rather a review of the works of John Dowland.

Oh boy, am I in for an adventure! I thought and eager ripped off the packaging and into the cd player it goes.

I was enchanted right from the start. The singing is wonderful, there was only one really bad track, and even Sting reading from one of Dowland's letters to an influential courtier at James I's court was interesting. There's a haunting quality to the songs, music written by a man who was an outsider in the land of his birth (Dowland was a catholic in a fiercely protestant England), and from what the letter tell us, a man who was living on the edge between being comfortable and poverty.

Not all of the songs are great, and there are several real clunkers in this -- for me, I detested listening to Can she excuse my wrongs? but several others are haunting in their beauty and touch of melancholy. Slipped in between the musical selections is Sting reading from a letter of Dowland's, written in 1595, to an influential courtier in Queen Elizabeth's court, and Dowland is hoping that he can gain the patronage of Lord Robert so that he can gain employment and return to England. While at first, it feels odd to have the readings in there, but eventually you get a cohesiveness that makes Dowland's story all the more poignant.
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45 of 49 people found the following review helpful By J. A. Greenwood on October 14, 2006
Format: Audio CD
You're missing the point if you criticize Sting for making this album. To paraphrase the man himself, these songs are not sacrosanct. In fact, to the purists who fault him for making this gentle, yet yes, self-indulgent album: it sometimes takes an artist like Sting to revive a genre or composer so the work does not fade into oblivion. Though Sting is a better bass player than guitarist or lutenist, the playing on this album is beautiful. The reverence for the music is there without being overbearing. Sting makes a powerful statement for the pure joy of...melancholy. Excellent work. Buy it. Indulge.
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149 of 174 people found the following review helpful By bold_strummer on October 14, 2006
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
"John Dowland: Songs for Tenor and Lute" by Nigel Rogers with Paul O'Dette on Virgin Classics, there's really no comparison technically or interpretively. Sting get's an A for effort and also an A for putting his reputation on the line in the name of a beautiful repretoire. As a lifetime lover of this music, I am thrilled to see Sting take it on as another "cause". If this cd turns on just one person to lute or classical guitar music, I say great.

As another musician/reviewer suggests, if you forget that you are listening to Sting the results seem amateurish and student-like, but the truth is that you are listening to Sting and that of course changes everything! In Sting's defense, it's true these are not operatic arias but rather intimate art songs, they are pop songs of sorts and they do mark the beginning of a long line of self-expressive songwriting that does include Sting himself. Glad they at least found a roadie who could tune a lute :)
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27 of 29 people found the following review helpful By Phillip Serna on May 18, 2007
Format: Audio CD
Sting and Dowland are an odd mix, but he makes an honorable stab at it, and it definitely a good purchase for anyone wanting a way in for music from the turn of the sixteenth to seventeenth centuries. There area numerous books on the subject of early vocal style and a host of fabulous period instrument and period voice recordings to choose from. My advice - compare and contrast, there is no single definitive performance of this repertoire. While I definitely would NOT count Sting's CDs here as close to a definitive performance, closing the book on Dowland, but it is a book worthy openi9ng, not closing. These performances examine Dowland from a unique perspective, and are a worthy addition to anyone's music collection, classical or otherwise.

Dr. Phillip W. Serna, DMus

Doctor of Music, Northwestern University, 2007
Double Bass, Viola da Gamba, Bass Guitar & Guitar
Orchestra Member: Northbrook Symphony Orchestra, Illinois Philharmonic Orchestra & the Southwest Michigan Symphony Orchestra
Early Music Member: The Chicago Early Music Consort & The Spirit of Gambo, a Chicago Consort of Viols
Chicago Federation of Musicians, Local 10-208 of A.F.M. #55608
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29 of 32 people found the following review helpful By Warmgoy on December 8, 2006
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
I love this recording.

Let me say at once this will not appeal to all tastes, and it is not my intent here to question the taste of anyone who does not care for this recording. There are many valid takes on it, though I will say that those who know little of early music or with only a tangential knowledge of classical music may need to do some more listening before evaluating.

I think response to this will very much depend on how one classifies Dowland's music, and how one has come to love it. Most contemporary lovers of this rep are those who love the sound of classically trained, classically utilized voices, and have come to Dowland within that musical frame. I myself adore the Battles, Pears, and Terfels in this music. And to those listeners this disc will rankle, and the singer will indeed sound raw and unmusical. On the other hand, Dowland's music was in its own time, and has since, had some life in the hands of untrained, unschooled voices, the street singer, folk singer, more down home guy. To one school, the opposite camp will appear dissonant, unevolved, and lacking in polish and basic musical grace. To the other, the opposite camp will appear effete and preciously sterile. Both have their points.

Odd comparison, but think about Johnny Cash (I'm from Nashville, bear with me). Now one school will, and quite validly, say that Cash can't sing his way out of a paper bag and is not musical, and if Cash were attempting classical singing - some Schubert say - well they would probably be right. But listen to Cash in his own idiom and Lordy, nobody can accuse him of lacking musicality - the guy can tear your heart out through his own musical means.
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Topic From this Discussion
I just heard the samples from this album on "Studio 60 on Sunset Strip" (US viewers will be able to see it on NBC on Monday) and put in an order for the album at the next commercial break. If the samples on Amazon are anything to go by, this will be a wonderful album as well as an... Read More
Oct 15, 2006 by Ullrich Fischer |  See all 4 posts
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