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The Denner File
Dowland-de Maistre Smackdown

On Monday I had the chance to meet, for the first time since before those crumbly days of 1989, an honest to Leo, 100 percent USDA-approved Russophile who also happens to be a slightly masochistic gardener (you’d have to be, if Florida is your soil) and netodidact. Conversation followed that natural path from Darfur to the United Nations to Khrushchev to Cold War shoe fashions to nuclear bombs to Sting to John Dowland, at which point my Russophile’s eyes went Ethiopian on me: John Who? I had, moments earlier, had a similar reaction to Joe de Maistre. But Mikhail, as the right honorable Northwesterner is called, knew more than I thought anyone not Isaiah Berlin and not dead could ever possibly know about the guy (the long and Savoyard of it being that de Maistre is a sort of Dr. Phil mutant of Edmund Burke). I would have liked to return the favor about Dowland, but all I know about the guy is that he was a hell of a composer for the Lute in vaguely Elizabethan times, that he whored his services to whatever court asked, and that my vinyl recordings of his works carried me through many a dullard paper back when I was serving time as a graduate student. I did promise Mikhail that I’d post a few works of Dowland’s, along with a piece from Sting’s latest album, an adaptation of Dowland’s works that I mildly recommend. In thanks to his Maîtrise, anyway. So here they are. The first three are from an old L’oiseau Lyre box set that doesn’t seem to be available anymore, although plenty of Dowland recordings are.

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