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The market is flooded with polished consort-style performances of Byrd. This isn’t one of them, it’s more interesting than that. It’s rough and ready, and concerned with conveying the spirit of a liturgical performance Byrd would have recognised, right down to the wobbly ‘priest’ intonations, rather than reflecting a modern concern with seamlessness. It has a dual USP in its use of ‘authentic’ pronunciation and in the presence of the instrumental accompaniment (for which there is overwhelming evidence) of the ECSE, who play sublimely throughout. On first listening, I wasn’t certain it was worth hampering the listener’s textual comprehension by applying such conjectural pronunciation (not, of course, that it could ever be anything but conjectural). But the spirit of the performance is so fully entered into that it does succeed, in the manner of a good television period drama, where the spirit of accuracy is far more important than the letter.

Catherine Groom Read the full review on Agora Classica


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Early Music Today, 2012 - ©Rhinegold Publishing