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William Byrd: Complete Consort Music

Phantasm

William Byrd: Complete Consort Music

...Gramophone Editor's Choice
CKD 372 (Linn Records)
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Listen

Tracks: Listen and Download

Format
Track Time Listen
1
Fantasia a3 (III)

Fantasia a3 (III)

Composer William Byrd (c1540-1623)
Conductor

Laurence Dreyfus

Band Phantasm
01:04 Play $1.70
2
Browning a5 (The leaves be green)

Browning a5 (The leaves be green)

Composer William Byrd (c1540-1623)
Conductor

Laurence Dreyfus

Band Phantasm
04:37 Play $1.70
3
Te lucis a4

Te lucis a4

Composer William Byrd (c1540-1623)
Conductor

Laurence Dreyfus

Band Phantasm
02:20 Play $1.70
4
In nomine a5 (III)

In nomine a5 (III)

Composer William Byrd (c1540-1623)
Conductor

Laurence Dreyfus

Band Phantasm
02:31 Play $1.70
5
Christe redemptor omnium a4

Christe redemptor omnium a4

Composer William Byrd (c1540-1623)
Conductor

Laurence Dreyfus

Band Phantasm
03:16 Play $1.70
6
In nomine a5 (IV)

In nomine a5 (IV)

Composer William Byrd (c1540-1623)
Conductor

Laurence Dreyfus

Band Phantasm
02:43 Play $1.70
7
Fantasia a4 (III)

Fantasia a4 (III)

Composer William Byrd (c1540-1623)
Conductor

Laurence Dreyfus

Band Phantasm
02:08 Play $1.70
8
Sermone Blando a3

Sermone Blando a3

Composer William Byrd (c1540-1623)
Conductor

Laurence Dreyfus

Band Phantasm
02:02 Play $1.70
9
Fantasia a5 (‘Two parts in one in the 4th above’)

Fantasia a5 (‘Two parts in one in the 4th above’)

Composer William Byrd (c1540-1623)
Conductor

Laurence Dreyfus

Band Phantasm
06:03 Play $3.40
10
Fantasia a6 (I) (A song of two basses)

Fantasia a6 (I) (A song of two basses)

Composer William Byrd (c1540-1623)
Conductor

Laurence Dreyfus

Band Phantasm
03:38 Play $1.70
11
Fantasia a3 (I)

Fantasia a3 (I)

Composer William Byrd (c1540-1623)
Conductor

Laurence Dreyfus

Band Phantasm
01:47 Play $1.70
12
Christe qui Lux es a4 (I)

Christe qui Lux es a4 (I)

Composer William Byrd (c1540-1623)
Conductor

Laurence Dreyfus

Band Phantasm
02:50 Play $1.70
13
In nomine a5 (II) (‘on the sharp’)

In nomine a5 (II) (‘on the sharp’)

Composer William Byrd (c1540-1623)
Conductor

Laurence Dreyfus

Band Phantasm
02:32 Play $1.70
14
Christe qui Lux es a4 (II)

Christe qui Lux es a4 (II)

Composer William Byrd (c1540-1623)
Conductor

Laurence Dreyfus

Band Phantasm
02:42 Play $1.70
15
In nomine a4 (II)

In nomine a4 (II)

Composer William Byrd (c1540-1623)
Conductor

Laurence Dreyfus

Band Phantasm
02:35 Play $1.70
16
Fantasia a6 (II)

Fantasia a6 (II)

Composer William Byrd (c1540-1623)
Conductor

Laurence Dreyfus

Band Phantasm
05:08 Play $3.40
17
Miserere a4

Miserere a4

Composer William Byrd (c1540-1623)
Conductor

Laurence Dreyfus

Band Phantasm
01:33 Play $1.70
18
Fantasia a4 (I)

Fantasia a4 (I)

Composer William Byrd (c1540-1623)
Conductor

Laurence Dreyfus

Band Phantasm
02:22 Play $1.70
19
Christe qui Lux es a4 (III)

Christe qui Lux es a4 (III)

Composer William Byrd (c1540-1623)
Conductor

Laurence Dreyfus

Band Phantasm
01:07 Play $1.70
20
In nomine a5 (V)

In nomine a5 (V)

Composer William Byrd (c1540-1623)
Conductor

Laurence Dreyfus

Band Phantasm
02:51 Play $1.70
21
In nomine a4 (I)

In nomine a4 (I)

Composer William Byrd (c1540-1623)
Conductor

Laurence Dreyfus

Band Phantasm
02:25 Play $1.70
22
Pavan and Galliard a6

Pavan and Galliard a6

Composer William Byrd (c1540-1623)
Conductor

Laurence Dreyfus

Band Phantasm
03:57 Play $1.70
23
Fantasia a6 (III) (‘to the vyolls’)

Fantasia a6 (III) (‘to the vyolls’)

Composer William Byrd (c1540-1623)
Conductor

Laurence Dreyfus

Band Phantasm
04:16 Play $1.70
24
Pavan and Galliard a5

Pavan and Galliard a5

Composer William Byrd (c1540-1623)
Conductor

Laurence Dreyfus

Band Phantasm
03:56 Play $1.70
25
Sermone Blando a 4 (II)

Sermone Blando a 4 (II)

Composer William Byrd (c1540-1623)
Conductor

Laurence Dreyfus

Band Phantasm
02:15 Play $1.70
26
Fantasia a3 (II)

Fantasia a3 (II)

Composer William Byrd (c1540-1623)
Conductor

Laurence Dreyfus

Band Phantasm
01:39 Play $1.70
27
Prelude and Goodnight Ground a5

Prelude and Goodnight Ground a5

Composer William Byrd (c1540-1623)
Conductor

Laurence Dreyfus

Band Phantasm
05:40 Play $3.40
Total Running Time 80 minutes Purchase all tracks 
$13.00 
Prices shown in US Dollars

Phantasm return from their award-winning debut on Linn Records with the first complete collection of William Byrd's consort music, including new hymn settings that are première recordings.

The SACD layer is both 5.1 channel and 2-channel. The Studio Master files are 192 kHz or 88.2kHz / 24-bit.

Download includes - cover art, inlay, booklet

Phantasm is recognised as the most exciting viol consort active on the world scene today.  This latest recording honours the most celebrated Elizabethan composer of Renaissance consort music, William Byrd.  Byrd's viol music is polyphonic and full of melancholy.  The performances on this recording brings out the rich, overlapping textures of the compositions creating a mesmerising sound.  

 

Finalist 2011 Gramophone Awards

Early Music category Finalist

2011 Gramophone Awards

 

 

 

Diapason d'Or Diapason d'Or - GoldenDiapason

'Six viol players without par remind us what separates a good early music disc from an exceptional success: each track is a forest bustling with life.'

 

 


Gramophone Editor's ChoiceGramophone Editor's Choice  

'Byrd is all the rage among music lovers these days .... And here come an exploration of his chamber music that reveals again his wonderful melodic invention. Add to that clean, spacious sound to match Phantasm's clean, spacious playing and it's a winner. Pure enjoyment.'

 

International Classical Music Awards 2012 International Classical Music Awards 2012 Nomination

 

 

Booklet Notes:

To experience William Byrd's complete consort music at one sitting is to confront a richly textured portrait of one of the most acute thinkers of the Elizabethan Age. For Byrd is a composer who relishes mastering and transforming the host of musical traditions handed down to him while ever anxious not to repeat himself. The result is a condensed if unparalleled oeuvre of undeniable beauty composed over some forty years from the early 1560s until the first years of the 17th century.

Consort music for viols was still a rarefied activity in 16th-century England and had yet to be transformed into the domestic ‘home entertainment centre' it became in the early 17th century in the houses of well-to-do gentry. It was rather at the royal court, at leading aristocratic houses, some cathedrals and theatres, and at Oxford and Cambridge where in Byrd's day one would play viols. Still, composers leapt at the chance to develop a range of music genres freed from secular poetic texts (or ‘ditties') and church liturgy while also devising ways to evoke references to verbal poetry and the spirituality of sacred music. Like drawing, painting, fencing and dancing, the playing of ensemble music was hailed as a pursuit to be cultivated by courtiers and gentlemen as well as by their female counterparts, though to a lesser extent. In 1561 - just as Byrd was beginning to compose his consort music - Sir Thomas Hoby published an influential English translation of Baldassare Castiglione's Book of the Courtier (1528) where we read that ‘just as bodily exercise maketh the body more lusty', music ‘brings into us a new habit that is good, and a custom inclining to virtue which maketh the mind more apt to the conceiving of felicity'.

Music's glimpse of happiness is not only a gift of God, but boasts a psychic advantage for man: as Hoby notes ‘it is a credible matter that it is acceptable unto Him, and that He hath given it unto us for a most sweet lightning of our travails and vexations'. Among the ‘chief conditions and qualities in a Courtier' enumerated are the ability ‘to sing well upon the book' (that is, to sight-sing), ‘to play upon the Lute, and singe to it with the ditty' and ‘to play upon the viol and all other instruments with frets'. Fretted instruments are those whose necks are tied with seven adjustable strands of animal gut which guide the tuning of all pitches. These instruments are therefore ‘full of harmony, because the tunes of them are very perfect, and with ease may do many things upon [them] that fill the mind with the sweetness of music. And the music of a set of viols doth no less delight a man, for it is very sweet and artificial'. If one adds to this mixture Byrd's leaning toward the serious side of life - he was ‘naturally disposed to Gravitie and Pietie' according to Henry Peacham (1622) - we can identify the goals of delight, sweetness, melancholy and technical artifice upon which Byrd set his musical sights. His achievement, though forgotten after his death, is never less than remarkable.

Only two of Byrd's consort works found their way into print in his own day - the Fantasia a4 (I) and the Fantasia a6 (III) in the Psalms, Songs and Sonnets (1611), though even these works - stamped with the composer's seal of approval - must have been written much earlier. For a chronology of the entire corpus, one can infer a dating based on the still authoritative analyses of Oliver Neighbour, whose monograph from 1978 still best illumines the history, context and construction of these marvellous works. Based on Neighbour (though without his consent!), I offer a rough, speculative chronology for Byrd's forty years of experimentation.

Track

Work

Possible date of composition

8

Sermone Blando a3

1560

12

Christe qui Lux es a4 (I)

1560

14

Christe qui Lux es a4 (II)

1560

17

Miserere a4

1560

3

Te lucis a4

1561

19

Christe qui Lux es a4 (III)

1561

15

In nomine a4 (II)

1562

21

In nomine a4 (I)

1562

10

Fantasia a6 (I) (A song of two basses)

1563

4

In nomine a5 (III)

1564

6

In nomine a5 (IV)

1564

20

In nomine a5 (V)

1564

5

Christe redemptor omnium a4

1565

13

In nomine a5 (II) (‘on the sharp')

1565

25

Sermone Blando a 4 (II)

1565

27

Prelude and Goodnight Ground a5

1569

24

Pavan and Galliard a5

1572

2

Browning a5 (The leaves be green)

1577

7

Fantasia a4 (III)

1585

16

Fantasia a6 (II)

1586

9

Fantasia a5  (‘Two parts in one in the 4th above')

1590

18

Fantasia a4 (I)

1590

23

Fantasia a6 (III) (‘to the vyolls')

1590

1

Fantasia a3 (III)

1595

11

Fantasia a3 (I)

1603

22

Pavan and Galliard a6

1603

26

Fantasia a3 (II)

1603

The implied time line suggests that Byrd began with the polyphonic enhancement of devotional hymns (measured out in semibreves) from the dusk-to-dawn offices of Vespers, Compline and Lauds before moving to the equally venerable tradition of the In nomine, a mystical consort rhapsody on a famous snatch of sacred vocal music (by John Taverner) in which the cantus firmus sounds in breves - twice as slow as in the hymns - and can no longer be related to the words of the original plainsong. From there, after a dense early experiment in Fantasia a6 - which finally ‘fugues' on a Tudor five-note motto called ‘Praise him praiseworthy' - Byrd tried his hand at contrasting sets of highly artificial variations (or ‘descant divisions') on bass grounds or popular tunes such as ‘The leaves be green' in which the subject keeps migrating between parts and keys. He then takes on the mimetic gestures of dancing in writing stately pavans and elegant galliards - some further works a5 might still be salvaged from his keyboard music - before developing a sectional fantasia which unexpectedly quotes popular ballads (‘The Sick Tune' or ‘Greensleeves') as well as including forays to the dance floor with the easily recognised leaps of the galliard. The question of how to end these fantasies and grounds seems to have plagued Byrd enough that he devises a novel instrumental apotheosis as a worldly equivalent to the ‘Amen' in his sacred polyphony (for example, Track 16, 4:30 and Track 27, 4:50), thereby raising the tonal register and the value of the genre. Finally, at the end of his compositional travels in writing for consort, Byrd strips away every sign of the outside world - dancing, song, religion - in the three-voiced fantasies, and, in the most compressed form imaginable, crafts three musical jewels. Here, following Thomas Morley (1597), ‘more art may be shown than in any other music because the composer is tied to nothing, but may add, diminish, and alter at his pleasure'. In taking a succession of unmarked ‘points', each laden with its own refined gradients of character, Byrd ‘wrests and turns [the point] as he wishes', forming a kaleidoscope of intense yearning and delight. At times it is hard to believe there are only three voices.

Our recording - which in its eighty minutes omits only the spurious or inadequately reconstructed works such as the In Nomine a5 (I) and other incomplete hymn settings - attempts a continuous flow between the contrasting musical genres. In so doing, we weave in and out of an Elizabethan tableau where the daily, even bawdy, pleasures of dance and popular song are calmed by quiet moments of rapt meditation in the devotional hymn settings and elevated with the more ecstatic confessions of the In Nomines. In the lusty variations (Browning and the Goodnight Ground), and in the cerebral fantasies, one relishes the dense, democratic counterpoint along with the canons and ‘fugueing' as the work of an extraordinary intellect who never fails to flatter the senses. What's remarkable is that the genre of each piece is often unrecognisable from its opening gesture, making the journey through Byrd's consorts a tantalising voyage of discovery. Though he builds on the work of his predecessors and contemporaries such as Robert Parsons, Alfonso Ferrabosco and Robert White, Byrd always manages to turn an imitated theme or gesture into a quite inimitable invention which remains wholly his own.

Some Textual Notes:

The Fantasia a6 (I) exists in a later version as a Latin motet Laudate pueri (and even later as an English anthem Behold now praise the Lord)from which we've taken Byrd's ‘improved' dotted figure in one rising ‘point' of imitation. The text to the tune called ‘Browning, my dear' starts:

          The leaves be green, the nuts be brown,
          They hang so high, they will not come down.

The cheeky duple-time quotation from the song ‘Greensleeves' which appears in the Fantasia a6 (II) (Track 16, 3:05) refers to the refrain:

          Greensleeves was all my joy,
          Greensleeves was my delight:
          Greensleeves was my hart of gold,
          And who but Lady Greensleeves.

The ‘Sick tune' appears in canon in the two treble viols midway into the Fantasia a5 (Track 9, 3:02) and derives from a ballad called ‘Captain Car' recounting a bad night at sea:

          Sick, sick and very sick,
          And sick and like to die;
          The sickest night that I abode,
          Good Lord have mercy on me.

Shakespeare refers to the ballad in Much Ado About Nothing (III, iv), when Hero asks, ‘Why, how now! Do you speak in the sick tune?' to which Beatrice replies, ‘I am out of all other tune, methinks.'

The verses of the hymn settings we play are those which exist intact or have been reliably reconstructed. Because of the mismatch between the numbers of Byrd's polyphonic verses and the strophes of the hymn itself, it is unlikely that the pieces were intended to be alternated with monophonic chant in a liturgical setting, though they might certainly be performed that way today. Sermone Blando is for Lauds from Low Sunday until Ascension and begins:

Tristes erant apostoli
de nece sui Domini:
quem poena mortis crudeli
servi damnarant impii.

The Apostles' hearts were full of pain
for their dear Lord so lately slain:
that Lord his servants' wicked train
with bitter scorn had dared arraign.

Sermone blando angelus
praedixit mulieribus,
‘In Galilaea Dominus
videndus est quantocius.'

With gentle voice the Angel gave
the women tidings at the grave;
‘Forthwith your Master shall ye see:
He goes before to Galilee.'

Christe qui Lux es is from Compline:

Christe, qui, lux es et dies,
noctis tenebras detegis,

lucisque lumen crederis,
lumen beatis praedicans:

Christ, thou who art the light and day,
who chasest nightly shades away,
thyself the Light of Light confessed,
and promiser of radiance blest:

Precamur, sancte Domine,
hac nocte nos custodias;
sit nobis in te requies,
quietas horas tribue.

O holy Lord, we pray to thee,
throughout the night our guardian be;
in thee vouchsafe us to repose,
all peaceful till the night shall close.

Te lucis also stems from Compline and includes the same poignant fall of the minor third as in Christe qui Lux es.

 

Te lucis ante terminum,
Rerum Creator, poscimus,
Ut pro tua clementia,
sis praesul et custodia.

To thee before the close of day,
Creator of the world, we pray
That, with thy wonted favour, thou
Wouldst be our guard and keeper now.

Procul recedant somnia,
Et noctium phantasmata:
Hostemque nostrum comprime,
Ne polluantur corpora.

From all ill dreams defend our sight,
From fears and terrors of the night;
Withhold from us our ghostly foe,
That spot of sin we may not know.

Praesta, Pater piisime,
cum Spiritu Paraclito,
Patrique compar
Unice regnans per omnes saeculum.
Amen.

O Father, that we ask be done,
Through Jesus Christ, thine only Son,
Who, with the Holy Ghost and thee,
Doth live and reign eternally.
Amen.

 

Christe redemptor omnium is a hymn from Vespers at Christmas:

Christe, Redemptor omnium,
ex Patre, Patris unice,
solus ante principium
natus ineffabiliter.

Jesu, the Father's only Son,
whose death for all redemption won,
before the worlds, of God most high,
begotten all ineffably.

Tu lumen, tu splendor Patris,
tu spes perennis omnium,
intende quas fundunt preces
tui per orbem servuli.

The Father's Light and Splendor Thou
their endless Hope to Thee that bow:
accept the prayers and praise today
that through the world Thy servants pay.

I owe a great debt to Oliver Neighbour for helping me with decisions on sources, versions and authenticity, allowing me to exploit his expert knowledge of - and enthusiasm for - Byrd's consort music; to Warwick Edwards for his generosity in giving us permission to play his reconstruction of Fantasia a4 (III); and to Katie Hunter who kindly gave permission to record from the editions of Northwood Music and make use of George Hunter's reconstructed Galliard a5. Laurence Dreyfus © 2011

Recording information: 

Recorded at Merton College Chapel, Oxford, UK 6-8 September 2010
Engineered by Philip Hobbs
Post-production by Julia Thomas at Finesplice, UK
Design by John Haxby
Photography by Marco Borggreve

Phantasm enters the US Billboard Chart
28 November 2011
with their William Byrd album
more >>

Awards nod for Retrospect and Phantasm
21 November 2011
International Classical Music Awards nominees announced
more >>

Gramophone Award Finalists Announced
16 August 2011
Retrospect Ensemble, Phantasm and Avison Ensemble nominated
more >>

Phantasm's Byrd is Editor's Choice
05 August 2011
Gramophone chooses the "simply divine" Phantasm
more >>

Laurence Dreyfus BBC Music Magazine Interview
07 July 2011
The founder of Phantasm discusses the varied and surprising world of Byrd.
more >>

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The Arts Desk
'... consistently astonishing'
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The Consort
'...their performances are models of precision and clarity...'


Fanfare
"Phantasm captures all the dimensions of this music...Highly recommended."
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American Record Guide
'Beautiful sound.'
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Fanfare
'...this disc is highly recommended...'
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Australian Viola da Gamba Society Newsletter
'The ensemble is faultless...'
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allmusic.com
4 Stars
'...each viol seems to purr and to die away in a rainbow of colors.'
more >>

pizzicato

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Audio Video Club of Atlanta
'One of my favorite items on the program is the second Fantasia...'
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BBC Music Magazine
5 Stars
Disc of the Month: 'Ensemble and intonation are flawless...'
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International Record Review
'...Phantasm presents performances which are full of character, commitment and complete confidence.'
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Turok Choice
The music is lovely'.
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Gramophone
'It's another one of those delicious Linn recordings that ensures the label's output is always worth exploring...'
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Gramophone
Editor's Choice: "...the playing is quite simply divine"
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Musical Pointers
'A marvellous disc...'
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Gramophone
Editor's Choice: ..."it's a winner. Pure enjoyment."
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The Arts Desk
"You're continually surprised by the potency of Byrd's musical imagination...Blissful."
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Diapason
5 Stars
Diapason d'Or: "...an exceptional success"
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Diapason
5 Stars
Diapason d'Or: "...une réussite exceptionnelle"
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Audiophile Audition
4 Stars
'Their sound is soft and luxuriant [and] beautifully captured...'
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MusicWeb International
Recording of the Month: 'The performances here are excellent, and the recording as good as possible for a viol consort.'
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BBC Radio 3 CD Review
'...real rhythmic vitality, warmth, full-blooded sonority and urgently communicative musicianship.'
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MusicWeb International
"The new Linn recording...is very welcome."
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Independent on Sunday
"Phantasm's new recording is intoxicating...faultless, the sound sweet but never cloying."
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Hi-Fi Critic
"There is much beauty here..."
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10 May 2014 to 10 May 2014
England
Tunstall Chapel - University of Durham, Durham, England, United Kingdom
Perilous Polyphony a3

11 May 2014 to 12 May 2014
England, London
Shakespeare's Globe Theatre, London, England, United kingdom
Phantasm with Trevor Pinnock, Dame Emma Kirkby, and Stuart Jackson

13 June 2014 to 13 June 2014
Wales
Chirk Castle, Chirk, Wrexham, Wales, United Kingdom
Phantasm at Chirk Castle for Gregynog Festival

15 June 2014 to 15 June 2014
England
Magdalen College Auditorium, Oxford, England, United Kingdom
Perilous Polyphony - Music for three viols

18 July 2014 to 18 July 2014
England, London
St Mary-at-Hill, London, United Kingdom
William Lawes Organ consort

05 September 2014 to 05 September 2014
Europe
Music Centre, Helsinki, Finland, Europe
Perilous Polyphony a3