Hyperion Records

Preludium, BK1
Parthenia (nos. I, II, III), Nevell (Nos 39, 40), Forster (Nos 53, 54). [Neighbour, Pavan & Galliard g2’ p 193]

'Byrd: The Complete Keyboard Music' (CDS44461/7)
Byrd: The Complete Keyboard Music
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Preludium, BK1
The pavan and galliard occur near the end of Nevell, where they are called the tennthe pavian ... galliarde to the same. Although this is indeed the tenth pavan in the source, these pieces are clearly separated from the central sequence of nine pavans and galliards and it is unlikely that Byrd’s intention was for them to form part of that main group, which has its own internal logic ending with the great ‘32-bar’ Passinge mesures. Moreover, more than twenty years later Byrd published this pair of works separately as the opening pieces in Parthenia (1612/13), prefaced by the prelude heard here. Since Parthenia is the maydenhead of the first musicke that ever was printed for the Virginalls (as it says on the title-page), these are the first three keyboard works ever printed in Britain.

In Nevell, the pavan and galliard are dedicated to ‘mr w. peter’. In 1591, his father, Byrd’s protector Sir John Petre, was still alive, but by the time Byrd published the works, William Petre had himself succeeded his father and become a baron, so the dedicatee is now referred to as Sir William Petre. The name is pronounced exactly like the christian name ‘Peter’. The Petre family house was (and still is) called Ingatestone Hall, a deliberate pun on the word ‘stone’ and the name ‘Petre’ (rock). Not surprisingly, Byrd’s second book of Gradualia motets, dedicated in 1607 to Lord John Petre, contains its most elaborate and sonorous music in the 6-voiced motets for the feast of Sts Peter and Paul, giving particular typographical emphasis to the words Tu es Petrus (‘Thou art Peter’) by printing them in bold typeface.

The Dorian G minor pavan is a ‘16-bar’ work, running to 96 semibreves, and is ostensibly rather static harmonically, since all of its six sections begin on chords of G (and four of them end on G as well), but these anchor points in fact hold down one of Byrd’s most harmonically varied pavans. The 16 bars of the first strain pass through a wide variety of harmonies; while the first half of the phrase is strictly in G minor, the second half ranges through such chords as F major, A major, C major. The second strain firmly establishes a move to D major, indicating the sharp side of the home key, and the third strain firmly delineates the subdominant, the flat side, by establishing C minor before re-establishing the dominant and returning home to G minor. This work is forward-looking in its tonal outlook, reaching beyond the modal-based schemes found in many works to start defining tonality in a more modern manner. Thomas Tomkins included this pair of works on his first list of Lessons of worthe.

from notes by Davitt Moroney © 1999

Track-specific metadata
Details for CDS44461/7 disc 7 track 1
Recording date
14 February 1997
Recording venue
Abbaye Royale de Fontevraud, France
Recording producer
John Hayward-Warburton
Recording engineer
Ken Blair
Hyperion usage
  1. Byrd: The Complete Keyboard Music (CDA66551/7)
    Disc 7 Track 1
    Release date: September 1999
    Deletion date: July 2010
    7CDs Superseded by CDS44461/7
  2. Byrd: The Complete Keyboard Music (CDS44461/7)
    Disc 7 Track 1
    Release date: September 2010
    7CDs Boxed set (at a special price)
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