Byrd: My Ladye Nevells Booke

Byrd: My Ladye Nevells Booke

by Elizabeth Farr


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Byrd: My Ladye Nevells Booke

My Ladye Nevells Booke is a collection of 42 keyboard pieces by William Byrd presented to the titular noblewoman who may have been a student of the composer. The music was for the most part already extant, but Byrd was involved in its selection and compilation, and it is in many ways a fascinating overview of his thinking about the keyboard. Nevertheless, recordings of the full cycle, which runs almost four hours in performance, have been sparse; in addition to the complete Byrd keyboard recording by Davitt Moroney there has until now been only a set by veteran British harpsichordist Christopher Hogwood. Thus this top-notch version by American harpsichordist Elizabeth Farr is especially welcome. Farr's style is sober and rich, which tends to match the book's contents -- My Ladye Nevells Booke is inclined toward the solid and ambitious pavans, grounds, and fantasies of Byrd, with only the galliards paired with most of the pavans offering a more sprightly mood. (The Fitzwilliam Virginal Book shows a more festive side of this essentially serious composer.) She does not, however, dampen the one real crowd-pleaser in the collection, the very early piece of program music called "The Battell"; her rendering of Byrd's subtle depiction of the differing gaits of footmen and horses is entertaining. The instruments used are unusual and will be a major attraction of the release for some buyers; they were made by Manchester, MI, builder Keith Hill, and all have a big sound that fits Farr's style perfectly. One is a celebrated Italian instrument from 1658 that Hill restored; two are copies of Flemish instruments from half a century after Byrd's time; and one is the instrument later called a lautenwerk -- a lute-harpsichord, with a much more intimate sound than the other instruments used. The album was recorded in a hall in the small town of Manchester, near Hill's studio, and the ambiance is superb; small details of both playing and instrumental timbre clearly emerge. This will be an important acquisition for libraries, keyboardists, and English music enthusiasts.

Product Details

Release Date: 07/31/2007
Label: Naxos
UPC: 0747313013975
catalogNumber: 8570139
Rank: 271113


  1. My Lady Nevell's Ground, for keyboard, MB 57
  2. Qui Passe (Chi passa) for my Lady Nevell, for keyboard, MB 19
  3. The March before the Battle, or, The Earl of Oxford's March, for keyboard, MB 93
  4. The Battle, for keyboard, MB 94
  5. Gaillard for the Victory, for keyboard, MB 95
  6. The Barley Break, for keyboard, MB 92
  7. Galliard Jig, for keyboard, MB 18
  8. The Hunt's Up, or Pescodd's Time, MB 40
  9. Ut re mi fa sol la, for keyboard in G major, MB 64
  10. Pavan & Gaillard, for keyboard in C minor No. 1, MB 29
  11. Pavan & Gaillard, for keyboard in G major No. 2, MB 71
  12. Pavan & Galliard, for keyboard in A minor, No. 1, MB 14
  13. Pavan & Gaillard, for keyboard in C major No. 1, MB 30
  14. Pavan & Gaillard, for keyboard in C minor No. 2, MB 31
  15. Pavan & Galliard ("Kinbourough Good"), for keyboard in C major, No. 2, MB 32
  16. Pavan ("Canon 2 in 1"), for keyboard in G major No. 6, MB 74
  17. Pavan, for keyboard in A minor No. 4, MB 17
  18. Pavan & Galliard ("Passamezzo"), for keyboard in G minor No. 1, MB 2
  19. Fantasia (Voluntary for my Lady Neville), for keyboard in G major, MB 61
  20. The woods so wild, variations for keyboard, MB 85
  21. The Maiden's Song, variations for keyboard, MB 82
  22. Fantasia, for keyboard in C major, MB 26
  23. Ground ("The seconde grownde"), for keyboard in C major, MB 42
  24. Walsingham, variations for keyboard, MB 8
  25. All in a garden green, variations for keyboard, MB 56
  26. Rowland (or "Lord Willoughby's Welcome home"), variations for keyboard, MB 7
  27. The Carman's Whistle, air & variations for keyboard, MB 36
  28. Hugh Aston's Ground, for keyboard, MB 20
  29. Fantasia, for keyboard in C major, No. 2, MB 25 "A Fancie"
  30. Sellinger's Round, variations for keyboard, MB 84
  31. Alman (Monsieur's Alman), for keyboard in G major, No. 1, MB 87
  32. Prelude for keyboard in G minor, MB 1
  33. Pavan & Galliard ("Sir William Petre"), for keyboard in G minor No. 2, MB 3
  34. Fantasy, for keyboard in D minor, MB 46
  35. Fantasia, for keyboard in C major, No. 3, MB 27

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