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Byrd: The Tallis Scholars sing William Byrd Import
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The first disc is entirely dedicated to the Catholic works of Byrd, including his three Masses. Byrd was a lifelong Catholic, and it is within these solemn pieces, at least to me, Byrd seems to be at his most expressive. These are fascinating works, and can be considered among the finest Mass settings composed during the renaissance. Although the Masses were probably written in the 1590's, they look back to the music of earlier composers, such as Tallis and Gombert. The beautiful Agnus Dei of the five-part Mass is a personal favorite. But whether it is the intricate polyphony, rich textures or the long, flowing melodic lines, each of the Mass settings is great, and distinctive, in its own way. Concluding the first disc is the hauntingly lovely 'Infelix ego'. This piece, with its soaring, amazingly high, soprano line, is reminiscent of Allegri's 'Miscere', which has always been one of my favorites.
The second disc predominately consists of Byrd's Anglican works, including his longest composition, 'The Great Service'.Read more ›
I can not put my finger on what makes the music so special to me. I tend to have it playing in the background and, when these pieces come on, they grab my attention.
Excellent value, too. Highest recommendation.
Byrd remained a Catholic throughout his life, despite the colossal pressures on Catholics following the Reformation. The first part of this includes Byrd's three settings of the Mass in Latin for Five, Four and Three Voices for Catholic worship. These are sublime, touching works, perhaps written for secret worship. The contrast between these and the Anglican settings in English is very marked, although the Anglican settings are no less musically rewarding. They conform (largely) to the injunction by Cranmer that settings should be one note to a syllable so that the text should be clearly heard, and have a sparer and more declamatory feel. Peter Phillips's commentary on this aspect of the music is, as always, exceptionally penetrating and interesting.
The performances themselves are unsurpassed, in my view, and rivalled only by The Cardinall's Musick's magnificent disc of the Masses. Intonation, clarity of line, balance and blend are impeccable and the whole is, as we have come to expect from the Tallis Scholars, simply brilliant and exceptionally beautiful.
At this price for two CDs of superb performances of some of the greatest English music ever written you simply can't go wrong, and I recommend this set wholeheartedly.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I am able to work while this music is playing, cannot do that all the time. Mostly choral music without any instruments that I can recall. Mostly in Latin. Read morePublished on November 1, 2013 by Waller C. Tabb Jr.
I enjoyed William Byrd, but not as much at Thomas Tallis. I can't explain exactly why. The music was rather boring.Published on March 13, 2013 by Lynn
One of my favorite choral ensembles. I've come to expect excellence from The Tallis Scholars and this recording certainly lives up to that expectation.Published on January 4, 2013 by Larry Thompson
If you are only to purchase one work by this amazing a cappella choir, this is probably the one.
Not for everyone.