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