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Byrd: The Masses For 3, 4 & 5 Voices / Paul Hillier, Pro Arte Singers

Byrd / Pro Arte Singers / Hillier
Release Date: 02/11/2014 
Label:  Harmonia Mundi   Catalog #: 1957223   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  William Byrd
Conductor:  Paul Hillier
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Pro Arte Singers
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 1 Hours 0 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews


In 1992, Paul Hillier and his Theatre of Voices recorded the Byrd four-part mass with literally four voices--soprano Judith Nelson, countertenor Drew Minter, tenor Paul Eliot, and baritone Hillier. The result (which, like many other recordings of these masses, is interspersed with "Propers"--in this case for the Feast of Corpus Christi) is a too-closely recorded, dynamic, and deeply felt performance, hampered by Minter's forced, unnatural quality and an overall undernourished ensemble juiced up by the engineering. No such problems occur here. These are solid, rich-textured, perfectly balanced performances whose only fault may be in a seemingly determined effort to bring Byrd's sincere,
Read more reverent works from church to theatre. No question, Hillier emphasizes the more dramatic possibilities of the flowing, lyrical lines and finds intense energy in the rhythms of these gorgeous works, especially in the powerfully affecting four-part mass. There's no more moving Agnus Dei than the one that concludes Byrd's four-part setting, and here it's given its most convincingly gripping performance, even slightly edging the Tallis Scholars' exemplary rendition. However, you can't beat the Tallis Scholars' overall performances of all three masses for sheer command of the music's subtleties of phrasing and tonal purity. Nevertheless, if this Hillier/Pro Arte Singers set is your only version of these masterpieces you won't be disappointed. As these American singers prove, you certainly don't have to be English to "get" the proper Byrdian style, and you don't have to come from a centuries-old tradition to project the requisite spirituality inherent in these works. Although I'll still hang on to my Tallis Scholars and (out of print) Sixteen performances, I'll not hesitate to recommend this Pro Arte Singers effort for newcomers to this essential, monumental repertoire. [5/25/2002]

--David Vernier, ClassicsToday.com
Reviewing original release of this recording
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Works on This Recording

1.
Mass for 3 Voices by William Byrd
Conductor:  Paul Hillier
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Pro Arte Singers
Period: Renaissance 
Written: circa 1593-1594; England 
Language: Latin 
2.
Mass for 4 Voices by William Byrd
Conductor:  Paul Hillier
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Pro Arte Singers
Period: Renaissance 
Written: circa 1592-1593; England 
Language: Latin 
3.
Mass for 5 Voices by William Byrd
Conductor:  Paul Hillier
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Pro Arte Singers
Period: Renaissance 
Written: circa 1595; England 
Language: Latin 

Customer Reviews

Average Customer Review:  1 Customer Review )
 Wonderful, but not for Casual Listening April 5, 2014 By Arthur Ashendorf (Costa Mesa, CA) See All My Reviews "Both the recording and composition are spectacular, but I don't know Latin. It would help in following a mass. Strangely, this limit isn't a problem with Gregorian Chants." Report Abuse
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