Thursday, 30 July 2015
Byrd - The Early Byrd - I Fagiolini/Fretwork/Yates
This disc of Byrd's music and its companion volume The Caged Byrd are both excellent, I think. They present a finely judged mixture of his the range of his music, all of which is beautifully performed. It makes a thoroughly enjoyable and very rewarding programme.
It goes without saying that Byrd's music itself is simply wonderful. He was one of the greatest of Renaissance composers, and this is an excellent selection of his output, from deeply spiritual polyphony, beautiful secular songs and superb keyboard music - all of it immensely skilful, harmonically innovative and a pleasure to listen to. It is performed here by some of the world's best in this repertoire. I Fagiolini and the two viol consorts, Fretwork and Concordia, are now well established as international superstars and Sophie Yates is also very highly regarded. And quite right, too. The performances here are technically superb and also deeply felt: they get right to the heart of Byrd's music for me and simply make it glow.
Chandos's recorded sound is of the excellent quality we expect from them and the presentation and notes are very good. I have a lot of very fine recordings of Byrd by brilliant musicians like The Cardinall's Musick, The Tallis Scholars, Davitt Moroney, Robin Blaze and others; I think these stand very well with them and I like these discs very much indeed. Certainly as an introduction to the range of Byrd's music you couldn't do much better, but seasoned Byrd listeners like me will find plenty to enjoy here, too. Very warmly recommended.