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Hyperion Records

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The Martyrdom of St Peter before Emperor Nero (M Fr 71 fol.28) by Jean Fouquet (c1420-1480)
Musée Condé, Chantilly, France / Giraudon / Bridgeman Art Library, London
Track(s) taken from CDA67653
Recording details: November 2007
Fitzalan Chapel, Arundel Castle, United Kingdom
Produced by Jonathan Freeman-Attwood
Engineered by Martin Haskell & Iestyn Rees
Release date: February 2009
Total duration: 8 minutes 57 seconds

'The performances are admirably directed, responsive to words, clear in their exposition of counterpoint, carefully blended in the homophonic passages. The Cardinall's Musick is an expert body of singers who know exactly what they are doing' (Gramophone)

'This performance is unparalleled in its depth of expression and intelligence. The Cardinall's Musick unerringly leads the listener to musical events that unlock Byrd's conception … crystalline sound reproduction ensures that every detail is captured. The imaginativeness of the selections for this disc attests to the scholarly expertise informing its production. In short, this performance brings us into the 'heavenly kingdom' longed for by Byrd' (BBC Music Magazine)

'The works for St Peter and St Paul … positively shimmer with exuberance … the beauties of these performances are revealed: litheness, energy and intelligence' (International Record Review)

'The Cardinall's Musick appeal like the most ardent supplicants at the altar rail. The flowing lines are rich with character and the blend is a bold mixture of individuals' (Classic FM Magazine)

'The completion of this series will be a landmark, but don’t wait to hear this beautiful disc' (Fanfare, USA)

'The Cardinall's Musick is certainly one of the world's more authoritative sources for well-researched, committed, fully engaging performances of Byrd's music, and anyone who wants to know the entire range of his work needs no further encouragement from me in making this newest release their next acquisition' (ClassicsToday.com)

'It may have been quite a long time coming but this eleventh disc from The Cardinall's Musick in their monumental exploration of William Byrd has certainly been worth the wait. The programme is built from the Cantiones Sacrae of 1591 and the Gradualia of 1607 and focuses on Byrd's recusant music. Throughout their series of recordings this method of interspersing the three books of Cantiones Sacrae with the two of Graduallia has been highly successful and what is most exciting is that it allows Andrew Carwood to be the first director to record the entire music from the Gradualia in liturgically appropriate combinations. Opening this album is the exquisite six-voice setting of Descendit de caelis which immediately confirms that these are performances that are every bit as good as the previous award-winning volume. There can be very few singers in the world just now that have such an understanding of Byrd's vocal works as The Cardinall's Musick and here they give impassioned and immediate performances that move on from the early music stereotypes that used to dominate in this field' (Musical Criticism.com)

Laetania
First line:
Kyrie eleison
composer
4vv; Gradualia 1605 II:xvi; chant derived from Byrd's setting after comparison with Antiphonale ad Usum Sarisb. Ecclesiae, & Processionale ritibus Romanae Ecclesiae (Antwerp, 1602 & 1629)
author of text
Litany of the Saints

Introduction  EnglishFrançaisDeutsch
The Laetania (Litany) in honour of all the saints is beautiful yet entirely functional music, a world away from the high art form of the other Gradualia pieces. Yet at the words of the Agnus Dei (Lamb of God) Byrd cannot resist writing music with a more impassioned nature. Not surprising from a man for whom texts, their context and subtext, were clearly everything.

from notes by Andrew Carwood © 2009

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