Secret Byrd: An Immersive Staged Mass

Secret Byrd
An Immersive Staged Mass on the 400th anniversary of William Byrd

The Gesualdo Six with Fretwork
Bill Barclay, Concert Theatre Works
St Martin-in-the-Fields crypt, 27 January 2023

In celebration of the 400th anniversary of William Byrd, The Gesualdo Six combined with the viol consort Fretwork for a theatrical recreation of a secret Catholic Mass with Byrd’s Mass for 5 Voices performed, as he intended, for a secret act of private domestic worship. It was directed by Bill Barclay, produced by Concert Theatre Works, and supported by The Continuo Foundation. The premiere performances were held in the splendidly restored crypt of London’s St Martin in the Fields.

Continue reading

William Byrd: The Great Service & Anthems

William Byrd: The Great Service & Anthems
Odyssean Ensemble, Colm Carey, Christian Wilson
Linn Records CKD 608. 59’25

CKD 608 Sleeve

This is the debut recording from The Odyssean Ensemble. It was released several months ago but returned to my mind while reviewing a more recent recording of Thomas Tomkins from the Choir of the Chapels Royal of Hampton Court Palace. The Odyssean Ensemble is a professional choir, directed by Colm Carey, the current director of music of another Chapels Royal at HM Tower of London, with the deputy director Christian Wilson playing the organ. A little bird tells me that the third of London’s Chapels Royal, the senior of the three, at St James’ Palace is also preparing a recording.  Continue reading

William Byrd: Walsingham

William Byrd: Walsingham
Jean-Luc Ho, organ et clavecin
Encelade ECL 1401. 70’14

The Maiden’s Song, Sir William Petre Pavan & Gaillard, In Nomine, Walsingham, Susanna Fair, The Queen’s Alman, Fantasia in A, Ut re mi fa sol la, Clarifica me, Pater 111, My Lady Nevell’s Ground, Fantasia in G, Pavan in A, Fantasia in D, Memento salutis auctor.

Although generally grouped under the title of the ‘virginalists’, most of the keyboard repertoire of Byrd’s era can be performed authentically on different keyboard instruments, although there are a few pointers towards either the organ (church or domestic) or one of the stringed keyboard instruments (harpsichord, virginal, clavichord). So the combination of harpsichord and organ on this CD is entirely appropriate, although there are one or two occasions when I might question Jean-Luc Ho’s particular choice of instrument. Both instruments were recorded in the Abbey of Saint-Amant-de-Boixe, Charente, France. Continue reading