Hyperion Records

A Grounde, BK86
Forster (No 1). [Neighbour, ‘Short Ground in G major’, p 120]

'Byrd: The Complete Keyboard Music' (CDS44461/7)
Byrd: The Complete Keyboard Music
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Track 9 on CDS44461/7 CD4 [5'49] 7CDs Boxed set (at a special price)

A Grounde, BK86
This is the third of Byrd’s three ‘short’ grounds, based on a little 4-bar repeating bass pattern (the other two are BK9 and BK43). The notes of the ground are here heard alone at the start, in conformity with Thomas Mace’s later description of grounds: ‘a set Number of Slow Notes, very Grave, and Stately’ that are first ‘express’d Once, or Twice, very Plainly.’ Tomkins included this G major ground on both his lists of Lessons of worthe, referring to it as both ‘a grownd of mr Byrdes’ and his ‘old grownd’. It is, indeed, clearly an early composition, probably dating from the 1560s, as do the two other ‘short’ grounds.

The music gently develops its minim-and-crotchet discourse as the keyboard range expands over a 40-bar paragraph (ten statements of the 4-bar bass). Trills then start taking over the texture. By the time they have had their say (four bass statements later), melodic discourse in quaver movement re-emerges and carries the music through another big paragraph (again, ten bass statements). Then a dancing jig breaks out (developed over a further eleven statements of the bass pattern). The work closes with a fine 10-bar phrase (a double statement of the bass followed by a 2-bar flourish as a coda). The calm of the opening phrases returns, although Byrd now places the music in the highest and brightest range of the keyboard, as though the experience of the whole piece has transformed the original material.

from notes by Davitt Moroney © 1999

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