Listeners who have followed the Nevell
sequence this far will already have anticipated that this fifth pavan and galliard must be in the minor, and be of the ‘long’ kind. Indeed, here Byrd returns to the sombre C minor of the first Nevell
pair, and like most of his more grave works in this form, it is a ‘16-bar’ pavan. The exceptional melodic richness of the pavan is characterised by the fact that each of its three strains is built on two different melodic ideas, each of which occupies half of the strain (eight bars); the second idea always intensifies the emotion expressed by the first, rising to a higher pitch while bringing into play more unusual and unexpected harmonies and dissonances. Byrd reserves the highest note in the piece, G, for the last section, and attentively surrounds it by his flattest harmonies of F minor and A flat major. The Galliard is one of Byrd’s most satisfying. The Nevell
scribe, John Baldwin, added at the end the words laudes deo
(‘praise be to God’).
from notes by Davitt Moroney © 1999