Byrd: Psalmes, Sonets, & Songs Of Sadnes & Pietie (2CD)
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Following Tallis and Byrd’s first publishing venture of Cantiones Sacrae of 1575, Byrd waited some 13 years to again wake the presses with his compositions. His 1588 Psalmes, Sonets, & songs of sadnes and pietie was his first solo publication, for which Elizabeth’s Lord Chancellor (and notable favorite), Sir Christopher Hatton, acted as patron. This is the first complete offering of the collection and was recorded on the grounds of Holdenby House, once the largest Elizabethan country house in all of England. Written at the height of Byrd’s creativity, it contains a treasure trove of musical delights. More famous among the collection includes two funeral elegies for Sir Philip Sidney (Come to me grief forever and O that most rare breast), Why do I use my ink, paper and pen? which is thought to allude to the martyrdom of the Jesuit Edmund Campion in 1580, as well as lighter secular songs from joyful madrigals to pained laments. Byrd here represents practically all levels of human emotion, with works performed by a variety of ‘voyces or Instruments’ as the composer himself directs.