Byrd: Mass for Five Voices – The Gesualdo Six

July 21, 2023, 9:00 am

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The Gesualdo Six and its director Owain Park have established a formidable reputation for intelligently planned programs, flawlessly performed. Their latest release amply satisfies both criteria. Park writes in the booklet notes: “At the heart of the collection of works on this album is William Byrd’s Mass for five voices, probably the last of a set of three Masses he composed after his move from the Chapel Royal in London to Catholic hibernation in Stondon Massey, Essex. While the Mass text is ritual Latin, the music is deeply intertwined with the motets he wrote, many of which were composed with ‘notes as a garland to adorn certain holy and delightful phrases of the Christian rite,’ as Byrd wrote in the preface to his second book of Gradualia (1607). Here we have selected a number of motets which complement the thematic, tonal and textural material of the Mass.”