Normally, Byrd adds a descant above the melody only in the last variation, but he does so here in Variation 5 as well as in Variation 9. Although he usually eschews ready-made figurative accompaniments, in Variation 6 he throws off in the left hand, with amused mastery, some traditional English scales in doubled thirds. (This potentially sterile technique is here varied in a sufficiently dangerous fashion to keep the player fully awake...). Then Byrd moves rapidly on to more interesting musical ‘matter’. At two moments, the music seems set to become more introspective, in the middle of Variation 7 and again, more intensely, in Variation 8; but these fleeting moments of hesitation are rapidly blown away by sunnier thoughts.
Glenn Gould, one of the few pianists to have expressed a passionate interest in Byrd’s keyboard music, was sufficiently impressed by the sudden B flat chord in the last variation to write about it. The chord is indeed striking, but I find myself considerably more struck by the exceptional nature of the whole piece and by its overall conception. The constant variety of keyboard technique, the melodic and rhythmic richness and the bouncingly youthful energy all firmly announce a composer clearly aware of his own exceptional skills, a musician who above all liked communicating his pleasure to other players and listeners. Thomas Tomkins rightly included Sellinger’s Rownde in his first list of Lessons of worthe!
from notes by Davitt Moroney © 1999