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Byrd: Second Service & Consort Anthems / Ives, Et Al


Release Date: 09/11/2007 
Label:  Harmonia Mundi   Catalog #: 907440   Spars Code: n/a 
Composer:  William Byrd
Performer:  Rogers Covey-CrumpStefan RobertsRyan Leonard
Conductor:  Bill Grayston Ives
Orchestra/Ensemble:  FretworkMagdalen College Choir Oxford
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
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Notes and Editorial Reviews

This is a first-rate combination of performing forces and works, a pleasing mix of 17 instrumental and vocal pieces (some for solo voice and viols, others choral) that includes well-known anthems (O Lord make thy servant, Elizabeth; Prevent us, O Lord) and David Skinner's own edition of the rarely heard Second Service. In fact, performer/editor/Cambridge professor Skinner is responsible for the performing editions used here, notable for the inclusion of viols in many of the choral works. In his excellent liner notes Skinner makes a case for using these instruments in the church service and effectively reconstructs parts for viol consort from existing organ accompaniments, not only in the Second Service, but also in such anthems as Alack, Read more when I look back and Thou God that guid'st.

Highlights include the gorgeous solo singing of both treble Stefan Roberts (what an unusually rich, full-bodied sound!) and tenor Rogers Covey-Crump, whose rendition of Blessed is he that fears the Lord fully exploits--in the best sense of the term--the expressive virtues of one of Byrd's most beautiful melodies. Organist Ryan Leonard proves his virtuoso mettle (and Byrd's!) in the wonderful Fantasia in A minor, and the choir and viol consort, as we might expect in this repertoire, are superb.

My only reservation concerns the sound and listener perspective: the already bright treble, not in itself a bad thing, tends to take on a harsh edge at times and dominates the balance; by contrast, detail in the internal choral parts and bass is often difficult to discern--perhaps just an artifact of cathedral acoustics, but one that weakens the full flavor of such passages as the juicy "Amen" at the close of O Lord, make thy servant Elizabeth. Nevertheless, Byrd enthusiasts should not hesitate to plunge in to what turns out to be one of the more uplifting, engagingly programmed, expertly performed 71 minutes of music I've heard in a long time.

--David Vernier, ClassicsToday.com
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Works on This Recording

1.
Second Service by William Byrd
Performer:  Rogers Covey-Crump (Tenor), Stefan Roberts (Treble), Ryan Leonard (Organ)
Conductor:  Bill Grayston Ives
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Fretwork,  Magdalen College Choir Oxford
Period: Renaissance 
Written: England 
2.
Prevent us, O Lord by William Byrd
Performer:  Ryan Leonard (Organ), Stefan Roberts (Treble), Rogers Covey-Crump (Tenor)
Conductor:  Bill Grayston Ives
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Fretwork,  Magdalen College Choir Oxford
Period: Renaissance 
Written: England 
3.
O Lord, make thy servant "A prayer for the King" by William Byrd
Performer:  Ryan Leonard (Organ), Stefan Roberts (Treble), Rogers Covey-Crump (Tenor)
Conductor:  Bill Grayston Ives
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Fretwork,  Magdalen College Choir Oxford
Period: Renaissance 
Written: England 
4.
In Nomine by William Byrd
Performer:  Rogers Covey-Crump (Tenor), Stefan Roberts (Treble), Ryan Leonard (Organ)
Conductor:  Bill Grayston Ives
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Fretwork,  Magdalen College Choir Oxford
Period: Renaissance 
Written: England 

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