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Byrd: Complete Consort Music / Phantasm

Byrd / Phantasam
Release Date: 07/26/2011 
Label:  Linn Records   Catalog #: 372   Spars Code: n/a 
Composer:  William Byrd
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Phantasm (Viol Consort)
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Multi 
Length: 1 Hours 20 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

This is a hybrid Super Audio CD playable on both regular and Super Audio CD players.


This music—primarily fantasias, In nomines, Pavans, and Galliards—performed by a viol consort that varies from three to six voices—combinations of treble, tenor, and bass viols—is so aurally soothing and aesthetically appealing that even if you don’t normally listen to “early music” or “period instruments” you will find this exceptional and irresistible. Of course, it’s been done very expertly before, most notably by the ensemble Fretwork about 10 years ago (available now from Arkivmusic.com’s “on demand” reprint program), but this brand new release is in even better sound and you won’t find a more
Read more “agreeable” consort of musicians and instruments anywhere. Whether for attentive listening or background atmosphere, these performances bring this invariably lovely music, which resides somewhere magical between the sacred and secular, to vivid life, enriched by the ideal sound from Oxford’s Merton College Chapel. Eminently repeatable.

-- David Vernier, ClassicsToday.com

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I have a weakness for the viol consort, and a great appreciation for Phantasm’s recordings, especially their wonderful disc of Purcell’s Fantasies for Viols released on Simax in 1996. This group has a coherence and cohesiveness in everything they play that gives a clear, homogenous sound. Leader Laurence Dreyfus makes excellent choices in both music and performance, leading to beautiful recordings, and this disc is no exception.
 
The marketing blurb informs us that this is “the first complete collection of William Byrd's consort music, including new hymn settings that are première recordings.” Indeed, while Fretwork released a “Complete Consort Music” disc in 2001, this current recording has four tracks more than the Fretwork album.
 
Textual research aside, what we have here is more than 79 minutes of William Byrd’s immensely attractive consort music for viols. The works are scored for 3 to 6 instruments, and feature the lovely sound of Byrd’s music, with textures that make life so much more attractive. While the viol consort in many ways prefigures the string quartet, there is more of a resolved sound than that of the quartet, where instruments generally play more individual lines. Sometimes in Byrd’s music there is subtle counterpoint among the players, but the viols lend themselves to more of a unified sound. Byrd’s music is inventive and refined, and reflects the type of music he composed for choirs. Listening to his viol music, you can almost imagine how voices would sound singing the same music.
 
The order of the works on this disc is well selected, and the music varies in the number of instruments for the different pieces - not all the three-part works are together. Paying attention to the number of instruments can be interesting, as even the three-part pieces have a density that can surprise; these are nothing like later string trios.
 
It’s hard to latch on to melodies in this type of music, as it is a constantly changing tapestry of counterpoint, but with repeated listens, one discovers the subtlety of Byrd’s music for viol consort. The performances here are excellent, and the recording as good as possible for a viol consort. In fact, this disc benefits greatly from hearing on headphones, which allows the listener better to distinguish the individual lines.
 
I strongly commend this recording to anyone who likes the sound of the viol consort, Byrd’s music, early music, or any kind of music. It is one of the finest recordings I’ve heard so far this year, and one of the best recordings of a viol consort I have heard. The music, the performers, and the excellent sound make this a pleasure to listen to again and again.
 
-- Kirk McElhearn, MusicWeb International
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Works on This Recording

1.
Fantasia a 3 no 3 in C major by William Byrd
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Phantasm (Viol Consort)
Period: Renaissance 
Written: England 
Venue:  Merton College Chapel, Oxford, England 
Length: 1 Minutes 3 Secs. 
2.
Browning a 5 by William Byrd
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Phantasm (Viol Consort)
Period: Renaissance 
Written: by 1580; England 
Venue:  Merton College Chapel, Oxford, England 
Length: 4 Minutes 37 Secs. 
3.
Te lucis ante terminum a 4, MB 134 by William Byrd
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Phantasm (Viol Consort)
Period: Renaissance 
Written: England 
Venue:  Merton College Chapel, Oxford, England 
Length: 2 Minutes 20 Secs. 
4.
In Nomine a 5 no 3 by William Byrd
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Phantasm (Viol Consort)
Period: Renaissance 
Written: England 
Venue:  Merton College Chapel, Oxford, England 
Length: 2 Minutes 30 Secs. 
5.
Christe Redemptor a 4 by William Byrd
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Phantasm (Viol Consort)
Period: Renaissance 
Written: England 
Venue:  Merton College Chapel, Oxford, England 
Length: 3 Minutes 15 Secs. 
6.
In Nomine a 5 no 4 by William Byrd
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Phantasm (Viol Consort)
Period: Renaissance 
Written: England 
Venue:  Merton College Chapel, Oxford, England 
Length: 2 Minutes 42 Secs. 
7.
Fantasia a 4 in G major by William Byrd
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Phantasm (Viol Consort)
Venue:  Merton College Chapel, Oxford, England 
Length: 2 Minutes 8 Secs. 
8.
Sermone blando a 3, MB 108 by William Byrd
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Phantasm (Viol Consort)
Period: Renaissance 
Written: England 
Venue:  Merton College Chapel, Oxford, England 
Length: 2 Minutes 1 Secs. 
9.
Fantasia a 5 in C major by William Byrd
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Phantasm (Viol Consort)
Period: Renaissance 
Written: England 
Venue:  Merton College Chapel, Oxford, England 
Length: 6 Minutes 3 Secs. 
10.
Fantasia a 6 in G minor no 1, MB 53 by William Byrd
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Phantasm (Viol Consort)
Period: Renaissance 
Written: England 
Venue:  Merton College Chapel, Oxford, England 
Length: 3 Minutes 38 Secs. 
11.
Fantasia a 3 no 1 in C major by William Byrd
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Phantasm (Viol Consort)
Period: Renaissance 
Written: England 
Venue:  Merton College Chapel, Oxford, England 
Length: 1 Minutes 46 Secs. 
12.
Christe qui lux es no 1 by William Byrd
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Phantasm (Viol Consort)
Period: Renaissance 
Written: England 
Venue:  Merton College Chapel, Oxford, England 
Length: 2 Minutes 50 Secs. 
13.
In Nomine a 5 no 2 "On the sharpe" by William Byrd
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Phantasm (Viol Consort)
Period: Renaissance 
Written: England 
Venue:  Merton College Chapel, Oxford, England 
Length: 2 Minutes 31 Secs. 
14.
Christe qui lux es no 2 by William Byrd
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Phantasm (Viol Consort)
Period: Renaissance 
Written: England 
Venue:  Merton College Chapel, Oxford, England 
Length: 2 Minutes 42 Secs. 
15.
In Nomine a 4 no 2 by William Byrd
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Phantasm (Viol Consort)
Period: Renaissance 
Written: by 1570; Lincoln, England 
Venue:  Merton College Chapel, Oxford, England 
Length: 2 Minutes 34 Secs. 
16.
Fantasia a 6 no 2 in G minor by William Byrd
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Phantasm (Viol Consort)
Period: Renaissance 
Written: England 
Venue:  Merton College Chapel, Oxford, England 
Length: 5 Minutes 7 Secs. 
17.
Miserere a 4 by William Byrd
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Phantasm (Viol Consort)
Period: Renaissance 
Venue:  Merton College Chapel, Oxford, England 
Length: 1 Minutes 32 Secs. 
18.
Fantasia a 4 in D minor [doubtful] by William Byrd
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Phantasm (Viol Consort)
Venue:  Merton College Chapel, Oxford, England 
Length: 2 Minutes 21 Secs. 
19.
Christe qui lux es no 3 by William Byrd
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Phantasm (Viol Consort)
Period: Renaissance 
Written: England 
Venue:  Merton College Chapel, Oxford, England 
Length: 1 Minutes 6 Secs. 
20.
In Nomine a 5 no 5 by William Byrd
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Phantasm (Viol Consort)
Period: Renaissance 
Written: England 
Venue:  Merton College Chapel, Oxford, England 
Length: 2 Minutes 50 Secs. 
21.
In Nomine a 4 no 1 by William Byrd
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Phantasm (Viol Consort)
Period: Renaissance 
Written: England 
Venue:  Merton College Chapel, Oxford, England 
Length: 2 Minutes 24 Secs. 
22.
Pavan and Galliard a 6 in C major by William Byrd
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Phantasm (Viol Consort)
Period: Renaissance 
Written: England 
Venue:  Merton College Chapel, Oxford, England 
Length: 3 Minutes 57 Secs. 
23.
Fantasia a 6 no 3 by William Byrd
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Phantasm (Viol Consort)
Period: Renaissance 
Written: England 
Venue:  Merton College Chapel, Oxford, England 
Length: 4 Minutes 16 Secs. 
24.
Sermone blando a 4 no 2, MB 130 by William Byrd
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Phantasm (Viol Consort)
Period: Renaissance 
Written: England 
Venue:  Merton College Chapel, Oxford, England 
Length: 2 Minutes 14 Secs. 
25.
Fantasia a 3 no 2 in C major by William Byrd
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Phantasm (Viol Consort)
Period: Renaissance 
Written: England 
Venue:  Merton College Chapel, Oxford, England 
Length: 1 Minutes 39 Secs. 
26.
Prelude and Ground a 5 by William Byrd
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Phantasm (Viol Consort)
Period: Renaissance 
Written: England 
Venue:  Merton College Chapel, Oxford, England 
Length: 5 Minutes 40 Secs. 

Featured Sound Samples

Browning a 5, for instrumental consort ("The Leaves Bee Greene")
Pavan and Galliard a 6, for instrumental consort in C

Sound Samples

Fantasia a 3 No. 3 in C major
Browning a 5
Te lucis ante terminum a 4
In Nomine a 5: No. 3
Christe Redemptor a 4
In Nomine a 5 No. 4
Fantasia a 4
Sermone blando a 3
Fantasia a 5 in C major
Fantasia a 6 No. 1 in G minor
Fantasia a 3 No. 1 in C major
Christe qui lux es a 4 No. 1
In Nomine a 5 No. 2
Christe qui lux es a 4 No. 2
In Nomine a 4 No. 2
Fantasia a 6 No. 2 in G minor
Miserere a 4
Fantasia a 4 No. 1 in D minor
Christe qui lux es a 4 No. 3
In Nomine a 5: No. 5
In Nomine a 4 No. 1
Pavan and Galliard a 6
Fantasia a 6 No. 3
Pavan and Galliard a 5
Sermone blando a 4 No. 2
Fantasia a 3 No. 2 in C major
Prelude and Ground a 5

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