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Byrd: Complete Harpsichord & Organ Music Pieter-Jan Belder

Byrd: Complete Harpsichord & Organ Music Pieter-Jan Belder

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Byrd's vocal works would have assured him a place in history as the greatest English composer of his generation. Yet he was also the outstanding composer of his time in the realm of instrumental music - indeed, probably the first musician to achieve supreme stature simultaneously in music for voices, for instrumental consort and for solo keyboard instrument. This richly imaginative and polished music gives no hint of its pioneer nature; considering the keyboard tradition, or rather the apparent lack of tradition before Byrd, the originality of his achievement is awesome. His genius is to transfer with such apparent ease his ideas from the brain to the page, and to the keyboard, without spoiling their freshness in the process. ‘The Naturall inclination and love to the Art of Musicke,’ he wrote, ‘wherein I have spent the better part of mine age, have been so powerfull in me, that even in my old yeares which are desirous of rest, I cannot containe my selfe from taking some paines therein.’ His words indicate not only a continually refreshed wellspring of imagination but also a perfectionist temperament that continually drove him to refine his technique. In the hands of Pieter-Jan Belder, whose experience in the field of 17th-century keyboard music is almost unrivalled, these songs and dances and themes and variations seem to develop and unfold as naturally as a tree buds and spreads. Only one recording of Byrd’s complete music for keyboards has been made before now, and it is now unavailable, leaving this new recording by Pieter-Jan Belder in magnificent solitude. The collection begins with two discs of pieces for organ, played on a trio of Dutch instruments chosen for their varied colours and sizes. CD3 and 4 contains the pieces to be found in the Fitzwilliam Virginal Book, of which Belder made the first ever complete recording for Brilliant Classics. The last three discs are dedicated to My Lady Nevells Booke, the beautifully preserved collection which most comprehensively preserves his contribution to keyboard literature.

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    • Number of Discs: 9
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    • Label: Brilliant Classics
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