William Byrd, Oxford Camerata - Masses For 4 And 5 Voices

Tuesday 1st June 1993
William Byrd, Oxford Camerata - Masses For 4 And 5 Voices

STYLE: Classical
RATING 7 7 7 7 7 7 7
OUR PRODUCT CODE: 22077-
LABEL: Naxos 8550574
FORMAT: CD Album
ITEMS: 1
RRP: £5.99

Reviewed by John Irvine

Naxos are a small company dedicated to producing (generally) high quality CDs at a budget price of E5 per disc. The Oxford Camerata are a recent signing to Naxos and are a group of around 12 devotees of 'early music'. They are extremely professional and their performance was an absolute delight. Sleeve notes were extremely helpful: unless you were a high Anglican or a Catholic, you probably wouldn't have known that William Byrd was a contemporary of Thomas Tallis (see CR2) and a Catholic at a time of religious persecution. He owed his position at court directly to Queen Elizabeth I, but tended to spend more and more time at the homes of Catholic nobility. His beautiful and restrained settings of Catholic Mass were a response to the question "How shall we sing the Lord's song in a strange land?" "Infelix Ego", included in this collection, was a musical setting of a Catholic priest's reflections on the Babylonian exile. Byrd's music reflects the difficult and dangerous times he found himself in. Unfortunately, the Oxford Camerata don't quite provide sufficient feeling for "Infelix Ego", nor are texts provided to help us follow the setting of the words. Still, a bargain at 5.

The opinions expressed in this article are not necessarily those held by Cross Rhythms. Any expressed views were accurate at the time of publishing but may or may not reflect the views of the individuals concerned at a later date.

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