Hyperion Records

Gypseis Round, BK80
composer
FVB (No 216). [Neighbour, p 147]

Recordings
'Byrd: The Complete Keyboard Music' (CDS44461/7)
Byrd: The Complete Keyboard Music
MP3 £30.00FLAC £30.00ALAC £30.00Buy by post £33.00 CDS44461/7  7CDs Boxed set (at a special price)  
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Track 15 on CDS44461/7 CD5 [4'43] 7CDs Boxed set (at a special price)

Gypseis Round, BK80
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It is hard not to hear this early work (probably dating from about 1570) as a trial run for Byrd’s other ‘Round’, Sellinger’s Rownde (BK84), which is based on a similar 20-bar tune and in the same Mixolydian G major. Gypseis Round must have been a popular Elizabethan tune, although it is not known elsewhere and appears not to have had any words for singing associated with it. Perhaps it was simply a gypsy dance. Here there are only seven variations instead of the nine in Sellingers’ Rownde, and one is left with the feeling that perhaps the order of the variations as the piece survives in the FVB may not be quite right. Neighbour even suggests that the work might be incomplete and sees it as being ‘weakened by too narrow a range of vocabulary’. Indeed, something seems not quite right in Variation 6 which has four bars more than any other; and most of Variation 3 sounds at least as final as most of Variation 7, as if perhaps the FVB text of this piece is as muddled as is its text of The Bells. However, the force and good humour of this youthful work, as well as its splendidly energetic way of jumping around the keyboard, manage to keep such doubts in check. Although side-by-side comparison with Sellinger’s Rownde certainly immediately shows up the finer qualities of that work, Gypseis Round remains highly satisfying to play and agreeable to listen to.

from notes by Davitt Moroney © 1999

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