William BYRD (c. 1543-1623)
Contrapuntal Byrd: Keyboard works
My Ladye Nevell’s Booke: Pavan 7 [4:26]; Fantasia in D [5:38]; The Maiden’s Song [6:14]; Pavan 8 [4:32]
The Second Ground [10:41]
The Quadran Pavan [9:44] and The Quadran Galliard BK70 [5:30]
Prelude in A [0:54]; Fantasia in A [9:06]
Pavan “Lachrymae” (Dowland - arr. Byrd) BK54 [5:47]
Colin Tilney (harpsichord)
rec. May 2013, Phillip T. Young Recital Hall, University of Victoria, BC
MUSIC & ARTS CD-1288 [62:33]

Colin Tilney is taking a selective approach to his chosen repertoire in the series of recordings he has thus far made for Music & Arts. CPE and JS Bach feature, as does Froberger, and he’s devoted a disc to a fugal hour in which he explores the music of Couperin, Gabrieli, Frescobaldi and others. Now he turns his attention to his native Britain with an album of Byrd.

He has taken five pieces from My Lady Nevell’s Book and the remainder from the Fitzwilliam Virginal Book to construct an hour-plus programme that provides constant interest. He plays on a Colin Booth harpsichord, whereas others, who embarked on more wide-ranging surveys of Byrd’s keyboard music – Hogwood and Moroney, for example - availed themselves of the opportunity to vary the colours and instruments involved. Tilney, with his tight focus, has the opportunity simply to keep with his harpsichord.

For example, Hogwood elects to play Pavan VII from My Lady Nevell’s Book on a chamber organ [L’Oiseau Lyre 430 484-2], and Moroney on a muselar virginal [Hyperion CDA66551/7]. Whilst he chooses not to play the succeeding Galliard he imbues the Pavan with an authoritative directness that sets his playing somewhat apart from that of the two players cited. He is less soft-grained than Hogwood, who plays a virginal, in the Fantasia in D and especially sensitive in The Maiden’s Song, also from the Book, where his voicings are adept, refined and speak of long immersion in the repertoire. In the Second Ground from the My Lady Nevell’s Book Hogwood plays on a Flemish harpsichord and his performance is much more vigorous than Tilney’s. Timbrally, too, his sound-world is brighter than Tilney’s, his approach more van Eyck than Tilney’s graver late Titian.

Tilney plays the Quadran Pavan and Galliard with a similar kind of introspective visionary quality; Moroney’s harpsichord here is strikingly weighted to the treble and rings out quite dramatically whereas Tilney prefers a more consonant, balanced, unflamboyant and intimate sound. Moroney’s brighter-edged playing is significantly quicker than Tilney’s in the case of Byrd’s beautiful keyboard arrangement of Dowland’s Lachrymae. Some may well feel that Tilney better conveys the music’s intimacy and melancholy.
Above all Tilney concentrates most on Byrd’s vocalized qualities in this single selection of pieces. With a fine recording and his own thoughtful booklet note – and very diverting booklet art – Tilney’s Byrd emerges, as he should, as a keyboard composer of musical complexity and expressive profundity.

Jonathan Woolf

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