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Hyperion Records

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Phoenix. A glass window specially designed, made and photographed by Malcolm Crowthers.
Track(s) taken from CDS44461/7
Recording details: March 1992
Ingatestone Hall, Ingatestone, Essex, United Kingdom
Produced by Edward Kershaw
Engineered by Mike Hatch
Release date: September 1999
Total duration: 5 minutes 28 seconds

The Mayden's Songe, BK82
Nevell (No 28), FVB (No 126). [Neighbour, p 150]

Introduction  EnglishFrançais
A few of Byrd’s earlier sets of song variations are more strictly polyphony than others, more akin to his consort writing, and this work is a case in point. It suits the sustained tones of a chamber organ particularly well, although it would sound equally fine on almost any keyboard instrument, or even arranged for viols. The words of the original song are not known.

Byrd presents the opening with the simplicity of a folksong, with the first line unaccompanied, somewhat akin to the opening of the Walsingham variations. The 16-bar melody has four distinct phrases, in ABCC quatrain form, similar to the C major Corranto (BK45) and Wilson’s Wilde (BK37). It is always clearly audible throughout the eight variations. The lyrical quality of the original melody imparts its character to all of Byrd’s counterpoints, especially the fine descant added over the last variation. The work certainly predates 1591, being in Nevell, but is probably from the 1570s or even as early as the 1560s. (An earlier keyboard setting of the same tune, much shorter and simpler, is found in the Mulliner Book.)

from notes by Davitt Moroney © 1999

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