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The Mayden's Songe, BK82

Nevell (No 28), FVB (No 126). [Neighbour, p 150]

A few of Byrd’s earlier sets of song variations are more strictly polyphony than others, more akin to his consort writing, and this work is a case in point. It suits the sustained tones of a chamber organ particularly well, although it would sound equally fine on almost any keyboard instrument, or even arranged for viols. The words of the original song are not known.

Byrd presents the opening with the simplicity of a folksong, with the first line unaccompanied, somewhat akin to the opening of the Walsingham variations. The 16-bar melody has four distinct phrases, in ABCC quatrain form, similar to the C major Corranto (BK45) and Wilson’s Wilde (BK37). It is always clearly audible throughout the eight variations. The lyrical quality of the original melody imparts its character to all of Byrd’s counterpoints, especially the fine descant added over the last variation. The work certainly predates 1591, being in Nevell, but is probably from the 1570s or even as early as the 1560s. (An earlier keyboard setting of the same tune, much shorter and simpler, is found in the Mulliner Book.)

from notes by Davitt Moroney © 1999

Certaines séries de variations datant de la jeunesse de Byrd, dont celle-ci, sont particulièrement, voire strictement, polyphoniques. Elles adoptent une écriture proche de celle pour consort de la même époque. Les sons soutenus de l’orgue correspondent bien à cette écriture, mais l’œuvre sonnerait bien sur n’importe quel instrument à clavier, ou même jouée par des violes. Les paroles de la chanson ne sont pas connues.

Byrd présente la première phrase avec toute la simplicité d’une ballade populaire : elle est même entièrement sans accompagnement, un peu comme le début des variations sur Walsingham et The Carman whistle ( BK36). La mélodie a seize mesures, divisée en quatre phrases de quatre mesures. Elle présente la forme d’un quatrain “ABCC”, comme la Corranto en ut majeur (BK45) et Wilson’s Wilde (BK37). Elle est toujours clairement audible pendant chacune des huit variations. La qualité de la mélodie prête son caractère lyrique à tous les contrepoints ajoutés par Byrd, surtout le dernier, qui est ajouté au-dessus de l’ultime variation. L’œuvre date certainement d’avant 1591, étant dans Nevell, et pourrait être des années 1570, ou même des années 1560. Un arrangement plus ancien de la mélodie, nettement plus court et simple, se trouve dans le Mulliner Book.

extrait des notes rédigées par Davitt Moroney © 1999


Byrd: The Complete Keyboard Music
CDS44461/77CDs Boxed set (at a special price) — Archive Service


Track 8 on CDS44461/7 CD4 [5'28] 7CDs Boxed set (at a special price) — Archive Service

Track-specific metadata for CDS44461/7 disc 4 track 8

Recording date
31 March 1992
Recording venue
Ingatestone Hall, Ingatestone, Essex, United Kingdom
Recording producer
Edward Kershaw
Recording engineer
Mike Hatch
Hyperion usage
  1. Byrd: The Complete Keyboard Music (CDA66551/7)
    Disc 4 Track 8
    Release date: September 1999
    Deletion date: July 2010
    7CDs Superseded by CDS44461/7
  2. Byrd: The Complete Keyboard Music (CDS44461/7)
    Disc 4 Track 8
    Release date: September 2010
    Deletion date: October 2018
    7CDs Boxed set (at a special price) — Archive Service
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