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Catalog #: SRCD3
Year Released: 2013
Record Label: Scribe Records
Artist: The Byrd Ensemble
Director: Markdavin Obenza
Album: In the Company of William Byrd

In the Company of William Byrd

  • This CD places the English Renaissance composer William Byrd (1540–1623) alongside five other musicians whose work he knew well. It is a diverse group, spanning several generations and reaching far beyond the borders of England. Byrd himself seems never to have visited continental Europe—although he did own a copy of a printed travel book, a sort of sixteenth-century Michelin guide, with advice for first-time travelers abroad. (He was duly warned against the dangers of warmer climes, from “popish superstition” to “the daily use of Garlic.”) Although Byrd was no more than an armchair traveler, he certainly stayed in touch with international musical life. He kept up a lively correspondence with fellow-musicians both at home and abroad. He had access to the best collection of imported music in England, everything from old chant manuscripts to Monteverdi’s new books of madrigals. Like the great composers of later centuries, he had a keen ear for what his contemporaries were doing, and he spent his whole life learning from them. The closest comparison may be with Shakespeare, who never hesitated to beg, borrow, or steal from the rich Renaissance tradition of drama and poetry. - Kerry McCarthy
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