Tuesday, 4 December 2007

21. William Byrd - My Ladye Nevells Booke (1591)


Title: My Ladye Nevells Booke
Performer/Director: Christopher Hogwood
Year: 1974-75
Length: 3 hours 12 minutes


Sorry for the slight delay, but as you can imagine listening to a three hour recording at least three times takes at least nine hours, and I have other things to do with my life... like the albums project. But I digress.

This is a welcome change, there is not a word of singing in the whole three hours, just lovely keyboard music, no "ahh ahh ahhs" at all! The whole recording is pretty amazing, Hogwood moves from the virginal to the Flemish and Italian Harpsichords and to the Organ while being perfectly brilliant in all of them.

As you might have understood by now my knowledge of the nuts and bolts of classical music composition is pretty rudimentary, so it is one of those annoying "I know what I like" but ask me to name what key something is in and I'm at a loss. Here, however you have some pretty amazing music and what fascinates me more is right on the first of the three CD's. The Battell track and the Marche before the Battell are two pretty amazing pieces of Virginal fireworks. And I love that. Harpsichord music always sounds extremely complex to my ears, kind of like a very fine bit of intricate lace, and the whole recording here is like that. When you go into the longest bit of the album with the Pavians and their respective Galliardes is also great.

This might however be the downfall of the recording, but the fault is Byrds really, because the Booke is top-heavy in musical terms, so is the recording, the first CD and the first half of the second are superior to the second half in my opinion. I should also not here that this is pretty much coming up to Baroque music even if it is not quite there yet... it is just around the corner.

Track Highlights

1. The Battell
2. Marche Before The Battell
3. Galliarde to the Third Paivan
4. All In a Garden Grine

Final Grade



From Wikipedia:

My Ladye Nevells Booke consists of 42 pieces for keyboard by William Byrd, probably the greatest English composer at that time. Although the music was copied by John Baldwin, one of the most famous musical scribes and calligraphers of the day, the pieces seem to have been selected, organized and even edited and corrected by Byrd himself.

A heavy, oblong folio volume, it retains its original elaborately tooled Morocco binding, stamped with the title, on top of a nineteenth century repair. The illuminated coat-of-arms of the Nevill family is on the title page, with the initials "H.N." in the lower left-hand corner. There are 192 folios each consisting of four six-line staves with large, diamond-shaped notes. At the end is a table of contents.

Lady Nevells Grownde:

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