Movement 1: Pavian
Movement 2: Galliarde
With six sections running to nearly 200 semibreves, it is one of Byrd’s two long ‘32-bar’ pavans. The other one is the Quadran pavan, based on the Passamezzo moderno in G major. As he would do with the Quadran, no doubt written some ten or fifteen years later, Byrd here stretches out the eight essential notes of the Italian bass (G, F, G, D, B flat, F, D, G) to fill the 32-semibreve phrases by making each note of the bass last four semibreves. Again as with the Quadran, these Passinge mesures works are only superficially in the ‘dance’ forms of pavan and galliard; they should clearly be played linked together and are transformed by the unifying presence of the Passamezzo antico bass into a large-scale ground. The fact that Byrd presented these works as a ‘pavan’ and a ‘galliard’ depends essentially on their musical character rather than their precise structural form.
The pavan contains six statements of the bass, and conforms to standard pavan structure, although they are six genuine variations on the same bass and Variations 2, 4 and 6 are not ‘varied repeats’ of 1, 3 and 5, which strict pavan form would imply. The galliard, being faster and based on 16-semibreve statements, contains nine variations, the last of which has sonorously rich chords, comparable to the last variation in Byrd’s other grounds. As is usual for works in the first half of Byrd’s career, he breaks into dancing triplets in the second half of each movement; in the galliard this triplet section incorporates a snatch from a popular Elizabethan jig tune known as Lusty gallant.
The same popular jig tune was quoted by John Danyel, at the same point, in his excellent Passingmeasures Galliard for two lutes, probably written after Byrd’s work. Many rather simpler lute settings exist, of which John Johnson’s is perhaps the finest; it, on the other hand, may possibly predate Byrd’s work. Thomas Morley’s Pasmeasz Pavan, based on the same ground, was no doubt written under the shadow of his teacher’s work. The Passamezzo Pavana and Galiarda Passamezzo by another Byrd pupil, Peter Philips (FVB Nos 76/77, dated 1592) are a considerably more impressive tribute to the master’s works.
from notes by Davitt Moroney © 1999