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Byrd: Complete Fantasias For Harpsichord / Glen Wilson

Byrd / Wilson
Release Date: 10/25/2011 
Label:  Naxos   Catalog #: 8572433   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  William ByrdJohn Bull
Performer:  Glen Wilson
Number of Discs: 1 
In Stock: Usually ships in 24 hours.  

Notes and Editorial Reviews



BYRD Fantasias for Harpsichord (complete) Glen Wilson (hpd) NAXOS 8.572433 (77: 30)


In an age of musical giants, William Byrd (c.1540–1623) stands head and shoulders above the rest. He excelled at every form of instrumental and vocal music known at the time and counted several important composers of the next generation as his pupils: Thomas Morley and Thomas Tomkins, possibly also Peter Philips, John Bull, and Thomas Weelkes. As Glen Wilson points out in his excellent essay, Read more precious little is known of Byrd’s early life—even his exact date and place of birth are in doubt. Byrd’s later life is documented in detail, however, thanks to his recusancy: He remained a staunch Catholic to the end, but as the Queen’s favorite was spared from incarceration—or worse. After the death of Elizabeth, Byrd was forced into seclusion, and it was during this period that he wrote his life’s crowning achievement, the great body of music for the Latin service. The final irony that besmirches the memory of this great composer has to do with his death and burial. Since as a recusant Catholic Byrd was forbidden by the Anglican Church to be buried in “consecrated ground” (a church graveyard), he had to be interred in an unmarked grave. His final resting place is known only to God, who probably didn’t give a hoot whether the man was Anglican or Catholic.


From the beginnings of the period-instrument movement, Byrd’s keyboard music has been enormously popular with recording artists and record labels. British harpsichordist Davitt Moroney recorded the complete works for keyboard in 1999 on seven Hyperion CDs; the set made Bernard Jacobson’s Want List in 2000 and is still an essential acquisition for any and all Byrd completists. There are also many excellent single CDs of Byrd’s keyboard music in the catalog, too numerous to name here. They draw largely from two important manuscripts of the period: the Fitzwilliam Virginal Book (c.1619) and My Ladye Nevells Booke (1591), and also from one printed work, Parthenia (1612).


Faced with this abundance, the serious record collector has his work cut out for him, and his task has become even harder with the appearance of Glen Wilson’s excellent recording of what are for me Byrd’s greatest keyboard compositions, the fantasias. Included on this disc are three praeludia, hardly distinguishable in form and content from the fantasias, and two works attributed to Byrd. There is also a short prelude attributed to John Bull. Wilson’s playing, as you might expect, is magisterial and well-nigh definitive. The Ruckers copy by Henk van Schevikhoven has a dark, gutsy sound and is tuned to a quarter-comma meantone temperament that produces no objectionable dissonances. Excellent recording quality and a budget price make this disc an absolute must and a shoo-in for my 2012 Want List.


FANFARE: Christopher Brodersen


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Glen Wilson has been releasing an impressive series of keyboard recitals on Naxos, including discs devoted to Sweelinck, Giles Farnaby, and Buxtehude. I have to confess I’m not a connoisseur of this repertoire, but I found this latest release very enjoyable indeed. The Fantasias and Preludes offered here come from several sources—Musica Britannica, the Fitzwilliam Virginal Book, and My Ladye Nevells Book among them—and they are quite affecting in their personal mix of improvisatory freedom and contrapuntal ingenuity. Wilson has chosen a sweet-toned instrument, and he is sonorously recorded. Some of these pieces are quite substantial, lasting just shy of about 10 minutes. If you want to sample, try the G major Fantasia (“Ut, re, mi, fa, sol, la”). If you’re hooked, I wouldn’t be a bit surprised.

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

1.
Prelude in G major, MB 116 by William Byrd
Performer:  Glen Wilson (Harpsichord)
Period: Renaissance 
Written: England 
2.
Fantasy in G major no 2, MB 62 by William Byrd
Performer:  Glen Wilson (Harpsichord)
Period: Renaissance 
Written: by 1570; Lincoln, England 
3.
Prelude in A minor, MB 12 by William Byrd
Performer:  Glen Wilson (Harpsichord)
Period: Renaissance 
Written: England 
4.
Fantasia in A minor, MB 13 by William Byrd
Performer:  Glen Wilson (Harpsichord)
Period: Renaissance 
Written: England 
5.
Prelude in C major, MB 24 by William Byrd
Performer:  Glen Wilson (Harpsichord)
Period: Renaissance 
Written: England 
6.
Fantasia in C major no 2, MB 25 by William Byrd
Performer:  Glen Wilson (Harpsichord)
Period: Renaissance 
Written: by 1591; England 
7.
Fantasia in G minor by William Byrd
Performer:  Glen Wilson (Harpsichord)
Period: Renaissance 
Written: England 
8.
Ut re mi fa sol la, in G major, MB 64 by William Byrd
Performer:  Glen Wilson (Harpsichord)
Period: Renaissance 
Written: England 
9.
Ut mi re, MB 65 by William Byrd
Performer:  Glen Wilson (Harpsichord)
Period: Renaissance 
Written: England 
10.
Fantasia in D minor, BK 46 by William Byrd
Performer:  Glen Wilson (Harpsichord)
Period: Renaissance 
Written: by 1591; England 
11.
Prelude "Doric Music" by John Bull
Performer:  Glen Wilson (Harpsichord)
Period: Baroque 
12.
Praeludium by William Byrd
Performer:  Glen Wilson (Harpsichord)
Period: Renaissance 
Written: England 
13.
Ut re mi fa sol la in F major, MB 58 by William Byrd
Performer:  Glen Wilson (Harpsichord)
Period: Renaissance 
Written: England 
14.
Prelude in G minor, MB 1 by William Byrd
Performer:  Glen Wilson (Harpsichord)
Period: Renaissance 
Written: England 
15.
Fantasy in G major no 3, MB 63 by William Byrd
Performer:  Glen Wilson (Harpsichord)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: England 
16.
Fantasia in C major no 1, MB 26 by William Byrd
Performer:  Glen Wilson (Harpsichord)
Period: Renaissance 
Written: England 

Sound Samples

Praeludium in G major (Fitzwilliam Virginal Book, No. 117)
Fantasia in G major, No. 2 (Musica Britannica, Vol. 28, No. 62)
Praeludium to the Fancie in A minor (Musica Britannica, Vol. 27, No. 12)
Fantasia in A minor (Musica Britannica, Vol. 27, No. 13)
Praeludium in C major (Musica Britannica, Vol. 27, No. 24)
Fantasia in C major, No. 2 (Musica Britannica, Vol. 27, No. 25)
Fantasia in G minor (Music Britannica, Vol. 55, No. 55)
Ut re mi fa sol la in G major (Musica Britannica, Vol. 28, No. 64)
Ut mi re (Musica Britannica, Vol. 28, No. 65)
Prelude: Doric Music (Musica Britannica, Vol. 14, No. 59)
Fantasia in D minor (Musica Britannica, Vol. 18, No. 46)
Praeludium (attrib. W. Byrd) (Musica Britannica, Vol. 55, No. 3)
Ut re mi fa sol la in F major (Musica Britannica, Vol. 28, No. 58)
Praeludium in G minor (Musica Britannica, Vol. 17, No. 1)
Fantasia in G major, No. 3 (Musica Britannica, Vol. 28, No. 63)
Fantasia in C major, No. 1 (Musica Britannica, Vol. 27, No. 26)

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