William Byrd. Laudibus in sanctis.

The three volumes of Cantiones Sacrae (1575, with Thomas Tallis, 1589, and 1591) and two volumes of Gradualia (1605 and 1607), polyphonic settings of the Mass Propers of the Roman Rite, are an abundant trove and document both the Latin motetís persistence in Anglican contexts as well as Byrdís own persistence in musical Romanism. This present recording, the tenth in a series of Byrdís works by Andrew Carwood and The Cardinallís Musick, presents the polyphonic Propers for Lady Mass in Eastertide from the 1605 Gradualia and diverse motets from the 1591 Cantiones Sacrae. Certain of the texts seem particularly resonant with the plight of Roman Catholics in Elizabethan England. For example, the motet, ìTribulatio proxima est,î with its references to tribulation, insults, and terrors and a final plea that the Lord as deliverer will not delay, seems autobiographically poignant for Byrd who, close to the time of its publication, relocated away from London to become part of a recusant community in Essex. Similarly, the ìSalve Regina,î both in its Marian identity and its lamentative reference to ìthis vale of tears,î also strikes a distinctively Roman chord. The religious history of late sixteenth-century England is one of many layers, and these Latin works, penned by a member of Elizabethís Chapel Royal, are enduring reminders of the eraís religious complexity.
The Cardinallís Musick brings a compelling fluency to their performances of Byrd, born of their long-standing commitment to his music. Their sound is both exquisitely clear and vibrantly alive, fluid in its motion and satisfyingly well-controlled. (Such beautiful final chords!) That saidóand enthusiastically soómuch of the music is also sung with notable fullness of sound. There are, indeed, welcome lulls, such as the ìpacem Deusî of ìAlleluia. Ave Maria,î or the ìgenuistiî of ìBeata es, virgo,î but in the main there is a full richness in the sound that may lose some of its expressive power when maintained at great length. And given the busyness of much of the counterpoint, a more dynamically varied approach would serve well.
One of the most memorable renditions on the recording is the Compline prayer, ìVisita quaesumus, Domine,î memorable especially for the ensembleís lighter and more contoured approach, elicited by the nocturnal context of its words and Byrdís scoring without a low bass voice. The ìRegina caeliî is also memorable both for its three-voice textureóa change of pace from the richness of its surrounding worksóand also for the ensembleís engagingly buoyant singing of the ìresurrexitî figures.
Steven Plank

image_description=William Byrd: Laudibus in sanctis
product_title=William Byrd: Laudibus in sanctis
product_by=The Cardinallís Musick; Andrew Carwood, Director.
product_id=Hyperion CDA6758 [CD]