October 10, 2010


William Byrd: back on top after 400 years (Malaysian Insider, October 07, 2010)

A recording of Renaissance composer William Byrd’s setting of the text “Infelix Ego” by the book-burning 15th-century monk Savonarola, who in turn was burned on a cross, seems an unlikely must-have CD of the year.

But in the hands of the British vocal group The Cardinall’s Musick, this, too, has come to pass.

At the British music magazine Gramophone’s annual ceremony last week, the group with the oddly spelled name, founded in 1989, got two awards for Infelix Ego (Unhappy am I): best early music recording and best recording of the year. [...]

Byrd was the most important English composer of his age, a musical talent to rival Shakespeare in the literary realm.

He lived long enough to incorporate a wide range of styles in his music — and he knew how to stay alive, while sticking discreetly to his Catholic faith, during the reign of the Tudors, who brought in the Protestant Reformation.

“I think that what you get with Byrd is this astonishing life experience which is not quite shared by any of the other musicians to the same extent,” Carwood said.

“As he goes through life, under Queen Elizabeth I, he has to put up with her -- for various reasons -- persecuting the Catholic community. And that persecution might be in being fined for not going to the Anglican services or, in the case of priests, it can be torture and death for daring to celebrate mass.

“So he’s a hidden man. He has to hide his faith away.”

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Posted by Orrin Judd at October 10, 2010 5:12 AM
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