Byrd Motets

Byrd Motets
The Choir of King’s College Cambridge, Stephen Cleobury



Throughout this disc, Cleobury opts for an up-front expressivity quite at odds with that classic, old King’s sound, leading to some very exciting moments. Occasionally the trebles lack the finesse and steely control to pull off the sort of performance heard from New College Oxford on their famous William Byrd Cantiones Sacrae 1589 (1983 CRD3420). [...]

Yet elsewhere the sound of the choral scholars—fuller, richer and bolder than ever before—pays many dividends. The Lenten motets Ne irascaris, Domine and Civitas sancti tui are superb, if not slightly too brisk for my task. More tenderness could be found in Byrd’s shapely setting of the word ‘Jerusalem’ but this is a small point compared to the rich vocal tone. By far the best track on this disc though is Alleluia. Ascendit Deus. Dominus in Sina. Here, in a higher tessitura, the trebles find more focus and the phrasing flows joyfully.

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