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Byrd: The Complete Keyboard Music / Davitt Moroney


Release Date: 09/14/2010 
Label:  Hyperion   Catalog #: 44461   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  William ByrdRobert ParsonsJohn Johnson
Performer:  Davitt Moroney
Number of Discs: 7 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 8 Hours 17 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

This is one of the monuments of recorded music, a magnificent undertaking. Everything Moroney touches comes up sparkling; it is perfect in every detail: musical, academic, technical, you name it.

This disc received the 2000 Gramophone magazine award for "Best Early Music Recording."

"[Moroney's] feeling for larger shapes makes the works cohere, and he nimbly clarifies the counterpoint.... He brings out the color and charm of the period instruments with unwavering musicality, using no fewer than six of them..." – The New York Times [3/12/00]

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Straightaway, this is one of the monuments of recorded music, a magnificent undertaking that deserves the widest
Read more success—it ought, indeed, to change the entire way we look at the history of music. We tend to think of William Byrd as, yes, OK, a great choral composer but, at least as far as the keyboard music is concerned, a composer of trifles—little pavans and galliards and similar dances, of rounds and grounds, but nothing of any real weight. This seven-disc set (sold by Hyperion for the price of five, though it would have been good value even without that discount) makes a very strong case for Byrd as the first great master of the keyboard, primus inter pares in the line that led onward through Bach, Beethoven, Rachmaninov, and all the other names you know.

Before considering Davitt Moroney's achievement in this breathtaking release, it's worth taking measure of just what was involved the task he set himself, with his recordings for this set beginning in 1991. There's a summary passage worth quoting in Moroney's fantastically informative and generous book—it's no longer a booklet—that comes with the box (and it will save you trying to assimilate all the detail in the headnote; "BK," incidentally, refers to "Byrd Keyboard" numbers based on the work of Oliver Neighbour):

Of the 127 works on this complete recording, ten pieces (dating mostly from his early years as an organist) are based on plainsong, eleven are built on grounds in the bass, eleven are fancies, and fourteen are variations based on popular melodies in the treble. Greater in number than these 45 pieces taken together are the 56 pavans and galliards, perhaps the most striking part of his output. The 25 remaining compositions comprise: one ornamented intabulation (or "gloss"), based on one of his own motets; sixteen sundry movements ostensibly based on other dances forms (although several of these should perhaps also be considered as variations); five preludes; and finally three pieces that do not fit into any other category (a march, and the descriptive pieces The Barley Break and The Battel!). There you have it: The stuff of over eight hours' solid music. Moroney set about his task using six different instruments: a 1972 clavichord based on German models; a 1985 chamber organ, again following German originals; two different harpsichords (1975 and 1994) based Belgian models; a muselar virginal (1991), again based on a Belgian model; and the organ (Ahrend, 1981) of the Église-Musée des Augustins, Toulouse—all the originals being 17th-century.

Moroney avoids the museum approach. He splits up genres and instruments to maximize variety: A galliard on the virginal can be followed by a dance on the harspichord, and a hornpipe rubs shoulders with a miserere. The only segregation is reserved for his Toulouse organ, where the change in acoustic perspective would be too dramatic, and so all the pieces recorded there are confined to the third disc. That church, indeed, has such generous reverberation that Moroney repeats some of these pieces on other discs, where the counterpoint emerges more clearly.

The astonishing variety of Byrd's music is the first thing that strikes the ear undertaking the exciting and edifying haul of listening through all seven discs end to end (it might sound like a slog, but it's actually a thrilling experience). Many of the smaller dances and folk-based pieces are familiar, to the extent that you find yourself whistling along before you realize it. Then will come some extended fantasy (or "fancy," as Byrd prefers) that requires as much concentration from the listener as agility from the performer. Some of the works take revolutionary forms: The Barley Break, for example (CD 2), is a dance-fantasy of considerable structural complexity for its time. And Moroney's claim that the sequence of 56 pavans and galliards (two of which, he gleefully points out, contain phrases a full 32 measures long) can stand comparison with The Well-Tempered Clavier or Beethoven's 32 piano sonatas is outlandish only until you hear the music itself—generally scattered across the discs, but in an explicit series of nine on CD 6.

The qualities of Moroney's musicianship can hardly be exaggerated: Everything he touches comes up sparkling, constantly rewarding the alert ear. He knows exactly how to decorate a longer line to enliven the moment without compromising the span. And his rhythmic exactitude goes hand-in-hand with an exhilarating sense of freedom. It is, in short, wonderful playing.

The recorded sound is universally excellent. With the obvious exception of the third disc (the one recorded in the Église-Musée des Augustins, chosen to emulate the huge space of Lincoln Cathedral, where Byrd was employed at the beginning of his career), Moroney's instruments have been miked fairly closely, but in an acoustic that allows a generous resonance. The result is a satisfying mix of detail and space, of closeness without constriction. (Some of the recordings, indeed, were made at Ingatestone Hall, in Essex, where, under the protection of the Catholic peer Lord Petre, the recusant Byrd set about composing his music for the Latin rite.)

What can one say in summary? Moroney's accomplishment is vast, and vastly important. It would have been important even if there were one or two weak spots in the finished enterprise—but there are none. It is perfect in every detail: musical, academic, technical, you name it. Once again, Hyperion deserves loud thanks for having the guts to take on a project that none of the larger companies dared tackle, and they, and we, are rewarded with an unmitigated success. A fabulous release, as enjoyable as it is momentous.

– Martin Anderson, FANFARE
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Works on This Recording

1.
My Lord Willoughbies welcom home by William Byrd
Performer:  Davitt Moroney (Virginal)
Period: Renaissance 
Written: England 
2.
The Bells, MB 38 by William Byrd
Performer:  Davitt Moroney (Harpsichord)
Period: Renaissance 
Written: after 1599; England 
3.
French Corantos (3) for Keyboard, MB 21 by William Byrd
Performer:  Davitt Moroney (Harpsichord)
Period: Renaissance 
Written: England 
4.
Hugh Aston's Ground, MB 20 by William Byrd
Performer:  Davitt Moroney (Virginal)
Period: Renaissance 
Written: England 
5.
Callino casturame, MB 35 by William Byrd
Performer:  Davitt Moroney (Harpsichord)
Period: Renaissance 
Written: England 
6.
Fantasia in C major no 1, MB 26 by William Byrd
Performer:  Davitt Moroney (Virginal)
Period: Renaissance 
Written: England 
7.
The Carman's Whistle, MB 36 by William Byrd
Performer:  Davitt Moroney (Chamber Organ)
Period: Renaissance 
Written: England 
8.
Sellinger's Round, MB 84 by William Byrd
Performer:  Davitt Moroney (Harpsichord)
Period: Renaissance 
Written: England 
9.
In nomine à 5 by Robert Parsons
Performer:  Davitt Moroney (Chamber Organ)
Period: Renaissance 
Written: 16th Century; England 
10.
The seconde grownde in C major, MB 42 by William Byrd
Performer:  Davitt Moroney (Virginal)
Period: Renaissance 
Written: England 
11.
Hornpipe for Keyboard, MB 39 by William Byrd
Performer:  Davitt Moroney (Harpsichord)
Period: Renaissance 
Written: England 
12.
Miserere for Keyboard no 1, MB 66 by William Byrd
Performer:  Davitt Moroney (Organ)
Period: Renaissance 
Written: England 
Venue:  Eglise-Musée des Augustins, Toulouse 
13.
Miserere for Keyboard no 2, MB 67 by William Byrd
Performer:  Davitt Moroney (Organ)
Period: Renaissance 
Written: England 
Venue:  Eglise-Musée des Augustins, Toulouse 
14.
A paven to delight by John Johnson
Performer:  Davitt Moroney (Harpsichord)
Period: Renaissance 
Written: 16th Century; England 
15.
Delight Galliard by John Johnson
Performer:  Davitt Moroney (Harpsichord)
Period: Renaissance 
Written: 16th Century; England 
16.
Prelude in C major, MB 24 by William Byrd
Performer:  Davitt Moroney (Harpsichord)
Period: Renaissance 
Written: England 
17.
Galliard in C major no 4, MB 34 "Mistress Mary Brownlow" by William Byrd
Performer:  Davitt Moroney (Harpsichord)
Period: Renaissance 
Written: by 1613; England 
18.
Prelude in F major, MB 115 by William Byrd
Performer:  Davitt Moroney (Virginal)
Period: Renaissance 
Written: England 
19.
Pavan and Galliard in F major no 2, MB 60 "Ph. Tregian" by William Byrd
Performer:  Davitt Moroney (Virginal)
Period: Renaissance 
Written: England 
20.
Alman in G major, MB 11 by William Byrd
Performer:  Davitt Moroney (Harpsichord)
Period: Renaissance 
Written: England 
21.
Pavan and Galliard in C major no 3, MB 33 by William Byrd
Performer:  Davitt Moroney (Harpsichord)
Period: Renaissance 
Written: circa 1570-1590; England 
22.
Walsingham, MB 8 by William Byrd
Performer:  Davitt Moroney (Harpsichord)
Period: Baroque 
Written: England 
23.
Lachrymae Pavan (Dowland), MB 54 by William Byrd
Performer:  Davitt Moroney (Virginal)
Period: Renaissance 
Written: England 
24.
Galliard (Harding) for Keyboard, MB 55 by William Byrd
Performer:  Davitt Moroney (Virginal)
Period: Renaissance 
Written: England 
25.
The Barley Break, MB 92 by William Byrd
Performer:  Davitt Moroney (Harpsichord)
Period: Renaissance 
Written: England 
26.
Pavan and Galliards (2) in A minor no 2, MB 15 "The Earl of Salisbury" by William Byrd
Performer:  Davitt Moroney (Virginal)
Period: Renaissance 
Written: by 1613; England 
27.
Echo Pavan and Galliard in G major, MB 114 by William Byrd
Performer:  Davitt Moroney (Harpsichord)
Period: Renaissance 
Written: England 
28.
Wilson's wild, MB 37 by William Byrd
Performer:  Davitt Moroney (Harpsichord)
Period: Renaissance 
Written: England 
29.
Jig in A minor, MB 22 by William Byrd
Performer:  Davitt Moroney (Virginal)
Period: Renaissance 
Written: England 
30.
Prelude in G major, MB 116 by William Byrd
Performer:  Davitt Moroney (Harpsichord)
Period: Renaissance 
Written: England 
31.
John come kiss me now, MB 81 by William Byrd
Performer:  Davitt Moroney (Harpsichord)
Period: Renaissance 
Written: after 1590; England 
32.
Christe qui lux es, MB 121 by William Byrd
Performer:  Davitt Moroney (Organ)
Period: Renaissance 
Written: England 
Venue:  Eglise-Musée des Augustins, Toulouse 
33.
Prelude in A minor, MB 12 by William Byrd
Performer:  Davitt Moroney (Organ)
Period: Renaissance 
Written: England 
Venue:  Eglise-Musée des Augustins, Toulouse 
34.
Fantasia in C major no 3, MB 27 by William Byrd
Performer:  Davitt Moroney (Organ)
Period: Renaissance 
Written: England 
Venue:  Eglise-Musée des Augustins, Toulouse 
35.
Ut re mi fa sol la, in G major, MB 64 by William Byrd
Performer:  Davitt Moroney (Organ)
Period: Renaissance 
Written: England 
Venue:  Eglise-Musée des Augustins, Toulouse 
36.
Ut mi re, MB 65 by William Byrd
Performer:  Davitt Moroney (Organ)
Period: Renaissance 
Written: England 
Venue:  Eglise-Musée des Augustins, Toulouse 
37.
Gloria tibi trinitas, MB 50 by William Byrd
Performer:  Davitt Moroney (Organ)
Period: Renaissance 
Written: England 
Venue:  Eglise-Musée des Augustins, Toulouse 
38.
Fantasia in C major no 4 "Verse", MB 28 by William Byrd
Performer:  Davitt Moroney (Organ)
Period: Renaissance 
Written: England 
Venue:  Eglise-Musée des Augustins, Toulouse 
39.
Ground in C major, MB 43 by William Byrd
Performer:  Davitt Moroney (Organ)
Period: Renaissance 
Written: England 
Venue:  Eglise-Musée des Augustins, Toulouse 
40.
Fantasia in D minor, BK 46 by William Byrd
Performer:  Davitt Moroney (Harpsichord)
Period: Renaissance 
Written: by 1591; England 
41.
Fantasia in C major no 2, MB 25 by William Byrd
Performer:  Davitt Moroney (Harpsichord)
Period: Renaissance 
Written: by 1591; England 
42.
Ground in G major, MB 9 by William Byrd
Performer:  Davitt Moroney (Harpsichord)
Period: Renaissance 
Written: England 
43.
Clarifica me, Pater I, MB 47 by William Byrd
Performer:  Davitt Moroney (Organ)
Period: Renaissance 
Written: England 
Venue:  Eglise-Musée des Augustins, Toulouse 
44.
Clarifica me, Pater II, MB 48 by William Byrd
Performer:  Davitt Moroney (Organ)
Period: Renaissance 
Written: England 
Venue:  Eglise-Musée des Augustins, Toulouse 
45.
Clarifica me, Pater III, MB 49 by William Byrd
Performer:  Davitt Moroney (Organ)
Period: Renaissance 
Written: England 
Venue:  Eglise-Musée des Augustins, Toulouse 
46.
Fantasy in G major no 2, MB 62 by William Byrd
Performer:  Davitt Moroney (Harpsichord)
Period: Renaissance 
Written: by 1570; Lincoln, England 
47.
Salvator mundi I, MB 68 by William Byrd
Performer:  Davitt Moroney (Organ)
Period: Renaissance 
Written: England 
Venue:  Eglise-Musée des Augustins, Toulouse 
48.
Salvator mundi II, MB 69 by William Byrd
Performer:  Davitt Moroney (Organ)
Period: Renaissance 
Written: England 
Venue:  Eglise-Musée des Augustins, Toulouse 
49.
Fantasia in G no 1 "Voluntary for my Lady Nevell", MB 61 by William Byrd
Performer:  Davitt Moroney (Harpsichord)
Period: Renaissance 
Written: by 1591; England 
50.
The woods so wild, MB 85 by William Byrd
Performer:  Davitt Moroney (Virginal)
Period: Renaissance 
Written: England 
51.
Ut re mi fa sol la in F major, MB 58 by William Byrd
Performer:  Davitt Moroney (Virginal)
Period: Renaissance 
Written: England 
52.
Go from my window, MB 79 by William Byrd
Performer:  Davitt Moroney (Harpsichord)
Period: Renaissance 
Written: England 
53.
Fortune, MB 6 by William Byrd
Performer:  Davitt Moroney (Virginal)
Period: Renaissance 
Written: circa 1575; England 
54.
Fantasy in G major no 3, MB 63 by William Byrd
Performer:  Davitt Moroney (Harpsichord)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: England 
55.
Coranto in C major, MB 45 by William Byrd
Performer:  Davitt Moroney (Harpsichord)
Period: Renaissance 
Written: England 
56.
The Maiden's Song, MB 82 by William Byrd
Performer:  Davitt Moroney (Chamber Organ)
Period: Renaissance 
Written: England 
57.
Ground in G minor, MB 86 by William Byrd
Performer:  Davitt Moroney (Virginal)
Period: Renaissance 
Written: England 
58.
Liber primus sacrarum cantionum: O quam gloriosum est regnum by William Byrd
Performer:  Davitt Moroney (Virginal)
Written: pub 1589 
59.
The Hunt's Up, MB 40 by William Byrd
Performer:  Davitt Moroney (Harpsichord)
Period: Renaissance 
Written: England 
60.
O mistress mine, I must, MB 83 by William Byrd
Performer:  Davitt Moroney (Harpsichord)
Period: Renaissance 
Written: after 1590; England 
61.
Lavolta in G minor no 2, MB 91 by William Byrd
Performer:  Davitt Moroney (Harpsichord)
Period: Renaissance 
Written: England 
62.
Quadran Pavan and Galliard in G major no 1, MB 70 "on the passamezzo moderno" by William Byrd
Performer:  Davitt Moroney (Harpsichord)
Period: Renaissance 
Written: by 1580; England 
63.
Piper's Galliard "If my complaints", MB 118 by William Byrd
Performer:  Davitt Moroney (Harpsichord)
Period: Renaissance 
Written: England 
64.
The Queen's Alman, MB 10 by William Byrd
Performer:  Davitt Moroney (Virginal)
Period: Renaissance 
Written: England 
65.
Pavan and Galliard in B flat major, MB 23 by William Byrd
Performer:  Davitt Moroney (Virginal)
Period: Renaissance 
Written: England 
66.
Pavan and Galliard in F major no 1, MB 59 "Bray" by William Byrd
Performer:  Davitt Moroney (Harpsichord)
Period: Renaissance 
Written: England 
67.
Lavolta in G minor no 1, MB 90 "Lady Morley" by William Byrd
Performer:  Davitt Moroney (Harpsichord)
Period: Renaissance 
Written: England 
68.
Pavan and Galliard in G minor no 3, MB 4 by William Byrd
Performer:  Davitt Moroney (Virginal)
Period: Renaissance 
Written: England 
69.
Gypsies' Round, MB 80 by William Byrd
Performer:  Davitt Moroney (Harpsichord)
Period: Renaissance 
Written: England 
70.
Pavan and Galliard in D minor no 1, MB 52 by William Byrd
Performer:  Davitt Moroney (Harpsichord)
Period: Renaissance 
Written: England 
71.
Galliard in D minor no 2, MB 53 by William Byrd
Performer:  Davitt Moroney (Harpsichord)
Period: Renaissance 
Written: England 
72.
Alman in G minor, MB 89 by William Byrd
Performer:  Davitt Moroney (Virginal)
Period: Renaissance 
Written: England 
73.
Pavan in G major no 8, MB 76 by William Byrd
Performer:  Davitt Moroney (Virginal)
Period: Renaissance 
Written: circa 1570-1590; England 
74.
Galliard in G major no 9, MB 77 by William Byrd
Performer:  Davitt Moroney (Virginal)
Period: Renaissance 
Written: England 
75.
Alman in C major, MB 117 by William Byrd
Performer:  Davitt Moroney (Harpsichord)
Period: Renaissance 
Written: England 
76.
The Galliard Jig, MB 18 by William Byrd
Performer:  Davitt Moroney (Harpsichord)
Period: Renaissance 
Written: England 
77.
Pavan and Galliard in G major no 4, MB 73 by William Byrd
Performer:  Davitt Moroney (Virginal)
Period: Renaissance 
Written: England 
78.
Qui passe for my Lady Nevell, MB 19 by William Byrd
Performer:  Davitt Moroney (Harpsichord)
Period: Renaissance 
Written: England 
79.
Pavan and Galliard in C minor no 1, MB 29 by William Byrd
Performer:  Davitt Moroney (Virginal)
Period: Renaissance 
Written: by 1580; London, England 
80.
Pavan and Galliard in G major no 2, MB 71 by William Byrd
Performer:  Davitt Moroney (Harpsichord)
Period: Renaissance 
Written: circa 1570-1590; England 
81.
Pavan and Galliard in A minor no 1, MB 14 by William Byrd
Performer:  Davitt Moroney (Virginal)
Period: Renaissance 
Written: circa 1570-1590; England 
82.
Pavan and Galliard in C major no 1, MB 30 by William Byrd
Performer:  Davitt Moroney (Harpsichord)
Period: Renaissance 
Written: circa 1570-1590; England 
83.
Pavan and Galliard in C minor no 2, MB 31 by William Byrd
Performer:  Davitt Moroney (Virginal)
Period: Renaissance 
Written: circa 1570-1590; England 
84.
Pavan and Galliard in C major no 2, MB 32 "Kinborough Good" by William Byrd
Performer:  Davitt Moroney (Harpsichord)
Period: Renaissance 
Written: by 1591; England 
85.
Pavan in G major no 6, MB 74 "Canon 2 in 1" by William Byrd
Performer:  Davitt Moroney (Virginal)
Period: Renaissance 
Written: by 1591; England 
86.
Pavan in A minor no 4, MB 17 by William Byrd
Performer:  Davitt Moroney (Virginal)
Period: Renaissance 
Written: by 1580; London, England 
87.
Passamezzo Pavan and Galliard in G minor no 1, MB 2 "On the passamezzo antico" by William Byrd
Performer:  Davitt Moroney (Harpsichord)
Period: Renaissance 
Written: by 1590; England 
88.
My Lady Nevell's Ground, BK 57 by William Byrd
Performer:  Davitt Moroney (Harpsichord)
Period: Renaissance 
Written: by 1591; England 
89.
Prelude in G minor, MB 1 by William Byrd
Performer:  Davitt Moroney (Harpsichord)
Period: Renaissance 
Written: England 
90.
Pavan and Galliard in G minor no 2, MB 3 "Sir William Petre" by William Byrd
Performer:  Davitt Moroney (Harpsichord)
Period: Renaissance 
Written: 1591; England 
91.
The March before the Battle, or The Earl of Oxford's March, MB 93 by William Byrd
Performer:  Davitt Moroney (Virginal)
Period: Renaissance 
Written: England 

Featured Sound Samples

Rowland, or Lord Willoughby's Welcome Home, MB 7
The Carman's Whistle, MB 36
Alman in G, MB 11

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