MusicWeb International One of the most grown-up review sites around 2023
Approaching 60,000 reviews
and more.. and still writing ...

Search MusicWeb Here Acte Prealable Polish CDs

Presto Music CD retailer
Founder: Len Mullenger                                    Editor in Chief:John Quinn             

Some items
to consider

new MWI
Current reviews

old MWI
pre-2023 reviews

paid for

Acte Prealable Polish recordings

Forgotten Recordings
Forgotten Recordings
All Forgotten Records Reviews

Troubadisc Weinberg- TROCD01450

All Troubadisc reviews

FOGHORN Classics

Brahms String Quartets

All Foghorn Reviews

All HDTT reviews

Songs to Harp from
the Old and New World

all Nimbus reviews

all tudor reviews

Follow us on Twitter

Editorial Board
MusicWeb International
Founding Editor
Rob Barnett
Editor in Chief
John Quinn
Contributing Editor
Ralph Moore
   David Barker
Jonathan Woolf
MusicWeb Founder
   Len Mullenger

REVIEW Plain text for smartphones & printers


William BYRD (c. 1540 - 1623)
The Maiden’s Song [5:31]
Sir William Petre Pavan & Gaillard [7:49]
In Nomine [3:11]
Walsingham [8:32]
Susanna Fair [2:30]
The Queen’s Alman [3:27]
Fantasia in A [7:28]
Ut re mi fa sol la [7:21]
Clarifica me, Pater (111) [2:58]
My Lady Nevell’s Ground [4:45]
Fantasia in G [3:23]
Pavan in A [5:02]
Fantasia in D [4:44]
Memento salutis auctor [3:23]
Jean-Luc Ho (organ, harpsichord)
rec. 2014, L’Abbaye de Sainte-Amant-de-Boixe (Charente)
ENCELADE ECL1401 [70:14]

Amongst the impressive and prolific legacy of William Byrd, the keyboard works hold an esteemed position. Listening to this recent release from Encelade, I can understand why he is regarded by many as England's greatest composer of music for the keyboard. The sheer scope, diversity, versatility and imagination on display, in this well-chosen selection, confirm that this music is forged with the stamp of quality. It certainly makes for a compelling listen.

Byrd’s keyboard music is collected in three books: Parthenia, together with works by John Bull and Orlando Gibbons, My Ladye Nevells Booke – a collection of 42 works, compiled by the composer himself in 1591, and the Fitzwilliam Virginal book, incorporating music by several composers. The music Jean-Luc Ho has chosen for this recital derives mainly from the latter two, with Sir William Petre Pavan & Gaillard being found in Parthenia. He has selected two instruments for his performances: The Renaissance organ of L’Abbaye de Sainte-Amant-de-Boixe, and an Italian harpsichord by Ryo Yoshida (2010), after Trasuntino (1531). The alternation of organ and harpsichord for groups of pieces provides contrast and enhances interest. Both are fine-sounding instruments and showcase the ingenuity of the music and the expert skill of the performer. This is the first time I have encountered Jean-Luc Ho, and I see he has already recorded a CD of harpsichord works by Bach and Couperin on Encelade.

Ho captures the spirit of the music in these idiomatic, stylish and rhythmically potent performances. He employs an imaginative range of registrations in the works played on the organ, adding colour and diversity. Ornaments are skilfully executed, tastefully calibrated and never impede the musical flow. An example is his stunning performance of My Lady Nevell’s Ground, the opening piece of the Nevell book. It consists of six variations on a ground, each of increasing complexity as the work progresses. Walsingham, from which the album takes its name, is the longest piece here at nearly eight and a half minutes. Existing in both Fitzwilliam and Nevell, it is made up of twenty-two variations on a well-known Elizabethan song. Crisply articulated, with ornamentation emerging with pristine clarity, it is one of the many highlights of the disc. Ho allocates it to the harpsichord, the instrument he has chosen for The Queen’s Alman. Here he uses a dark, sonorous registration. In Sir William Petre Pavan & Gaillard, he makes a striking contrast between the sedate, dignified and stately 2/4 Pavan, and the more animated 3/4 Galliard, with its dotted and syncopated rhythm.

Encountering this music has been a revelation. Ho plays with commitment, resourcefulness, imaginative flair and rhythmic vitality. These are convincing interpretations, and set the bar high. The bright, resonant acoustic of L’Abbaye de Sainte-Amant-de-Boixe confers a luminous sound on the proceedings. Delineation of lines and ornamental detail is vividly captured, with both instruments being well-matched volume-wise and spatially. Well-written annotations, in French and English, briefly discuss each of the pieces. For lovers of Elizabethan keyboard music, this is a highly desirable release, and has given me a great deal of pleasure.

Stephen Greenbank



Advertising on

Donate and keep us afloat


New Releases

Naxos Classical
All Naxos reviews

Chandos recordings
All Chandos reviews

Hyperion recordings
All Hyperion reviews

Foghorn recordings
All Foghorn reviews

Troubadisc recordings
All Troubadisc reviews

all Bridge reviews

all cpo reviews

Divine Art recordings
Click to see New Releases
Get 10% off using code musicweb10
All Divine Art reviews

All Eloquence reviews

Lyrita recordings
All Lyrita Reviews


Wyastone New Releases
Obtain 10% discount

Subscribe to our free weekly review listing