"..I strongly urge anyone with an interest in choral music to add this to their collection" (Choir & Organ) ASV proudly launched The Byrd Edition in October 1997. Volume 2 includes the Gradualia propers for the Nativity (which contains such remarkable motets as the Hodie Christus natus est). The eight motets that make up the program, many of them not otherwise available, include such gems as the large-scale setting of Psalm 119 (Ad Dominum) and the majestic 6-part Deus in adjutorium (for which the baritone part has been specially reconstructed).
Volume Two of ASV's complete Byrd edition includes the propers for Christmas Day Mass (from Byrd's collection Gradualia) bookended by rarely performed church music. The directors pay particular attention to proper pitch and scoring, correcting the excessive upward transposition of recent decades. Most pieces are done one singer per part, highlighting the beauty of particular voices and individual lines. Real finds include two three-voice Alleluyas, the exuberant "Decantabat populus," the sweet supplication "Deus in adjutorium," and the psalm-setting "In exitu Israel" (composed jointly by Byrd, Sheppard, and Mundy). This group's singing, always beautiful, is often too relaxed (as if they all need a double espresso); only "Decantabat" and "Deus in adjutorium" have sufficient momentum. Still, these are skillful performances of worthwhile pieces nobody else is likely to record. --Matthew Westphal