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Hyperion Records

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The Suffering of the Saints: St Paul on the Road to Damascus, from the Heures d'Etienne Chevalier (c1445) by Jean Fouquet (c1420-1480)
Musée Condé, Chantilly, France / Giraudon / Bridgeman Art Library, London
Track(s) taken from CDA67779
Recording details: April 2009
Fitzalan Chapel, Arundel Castle, United Kingdom
Produced by Jonathan Freeman-Attwood
Engineered by Martin Haskell & Iestyn Rees
Release date: February 2010
Total duration: 5 minutes 35 seconds

'Hyperion has done Byrd proud … it's a mixture also of the celebratory, as though the singers were congratulating themselves on a job well done—as well they might—and the pentitential, concluding with the full ensemble in a finely judged and quite extrovert Infelix ego, surely one of Byrd's most memorable motets … the commitment of singers and label alike is a cause for gratitude, perhaps even optimism. Congratulations to all concerned' (Gramophone)

'The Cardinall's Musick pays tribute to the whole landscape of Byrd's genius with a passion that ends the project on a high. As with the earlier instalments, Andrew Carwood's direction and programming are equally inspired … the centrepiece is the searing Infelix ego; here, the recusant Byrd explores a martyr's preparation for death, taking the listener through every emotional extreme before transcending the built-up tension in a glorious coda. The musical imagination of The Cardinall's Musick does full justice to that of Byrd. Unique about this ensemble is its expressiveness, whether members sing seamlessly as one or tug at each other's lines. The group's delivery is a sensual delight' (BBC Music Magazine)

Cunctis diebus
6vv; Cantiones Sacrae 1591 xxx
author of text
Job 14: 14; 10: 20-22

Introduction  EnglishFrançaisDeutsch
Cunctis diebus is in some ways a companion piece to the extended Infelix ego. Both start with a section for three voices (reminiscent of the old Votive Antiphon) and Byrd even uses a first inversion chord at the cadence before the first choral entry, a nod in the direction of Robert White who had used this startling gesture at the end of the first section of his Lamentations for five voices. Cunctis diebus is an example of Byrd choosing his words carefully. He uses verses from the famously miserable Book of Job: one verse from chapter 14 and then two from chapter 10. There is nothing positive here and Byrd highlights the darkness with his harmony at the words ‘ut plangam paululum’ (‘that I might lament a little’). Yet in the final section ‘where there is no order, but everlasting horror dwells’, Byrd chooses a rather cool and neutral sound world before a ravishing coda. Perhaps Byrd’s message is that fear of what is to come is unfounded and that the new world is not so terrifying.

from notes by Andrew Carwood © 2010

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