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Songs from the Labyrinth

The British rock star bends over the Elizabethan lute and touches the strings with his big hands. The song that emerges sounds sad – but “melancholy is no bad thing,” says Sting. The music sounds at home in Sting's Elizabethan manor whose mullioned windows look out over a green labyrinth.

Sting is playing the music of John Dowland, a 16th century English singer/songwriter who he says has haunted him for twenty years. Dowland sang many of his songs while working for princes on the continent. He longed to return to England, but couldn’t get a job - perhaps his songs were too sad?

His voice warm and husky, Sting sings Dowland’s lute compositions in Songs from the Labyrinth, which Deutsche Grammophon has just released in the UK and America.

Sting likes the reflectiveness of walking the labyrinth he built in his garden, though the TELEGRAPH PHOTO shows him exuberantly leaping it. Like his songs, the labyrinth takes him into his center, and back out into the world.

Update: Sting's album has shot to number one in classical album charts.