Descendit de caelis
Tu es pastor ovium
Miserere mei, Deus
Exsurge, quare obdormis, Domine?
Laetania Kyrie eleison
Nunc scio vere
Constitues eos principes
Tu es Petrus
Hodie Simon Petrus
Solve, iubente Deo
Haec dicit Dominus
This latest release in The Cardinall’s Musick complete Byrd Edition is surely one of the most eagerly-awaited events in the early music calendar. Previous discs in this award-winning survey of the greatest composer of the age have commanded the highest possible critical acclaim. Performances of filigree clarity, yet great passion and sincerity, allow the composer’s particular genius to shine forth in an unhindered blaze of glory.
The works in this eleventh volume present Byrd the recusant: covering the last year of his fashionable career in London and moving to a quieter life in the Essex countryside. The music is from two sources: the magnificent Cantiones Sacrae of 1591 and the Gradualia from 1607. The seven motets from 1591 show Byrd to be pre-occupied with thoughts of desolation, loss, deprivation and separation familiar ideas for the recusant Catholic community. A feeling of angst in the music is leavened by a sense of salvation and a glimmer of hope that is the composer’s constant refrain. The Gradualia contains some of the most imaginative, modern-sounding and energetic music that the composer ever wrote.
The Cardinall’s inspirational director Andrew Carwood sets the scene with fascinating booklet notes that illustrate the complex political and religious circumstances in which this great music was engendered.
'This performance is unparalleled in its depth of expression and intelligence. The Cardinall's Musick unerringly leads the listener to musical events that unlock Byrd's conception … Crystalline sound reproduction ensures that every detail is captured. The imaginativeness of the selections for this disc attests to the scholarly expertise informing its production. In short, this performances brings us into the 'heavenly kingdom' longed for by Byrd' (BBC Music Magazine)
'The Cardinall's Musick appeal like the most ardent supplicants at the altar rail. The flowing lines are rich with character and the blend is a bold mixture of individuals' (Classic FM Magazine)
'The works for St Peter and St Paul … positively shimmer with exuberance … The beauties of these performances are revealed: litheness, energy and intelligence' (International Record Review)
'The performances are admirably directed, responsive to words, clear in their exposition of counterpoint, carefully blended in the homophonic passages. The Cardinall's Musick is an expert body of singers who know exactly what they are doing' (Gramophone)
Recording details: November 2007; Fitzalan Chapel, Arundel Castle, United Kingdom; Produced by Jonathan Freeman-Attwood; Engineered by Martin Haskell & Iestyn Rees; Release date: February 2009;