Byrd: Motets


The Choir of King’s College, Cambridge
Directed by Stephen Cleobury

Released 16 March 2018


SKU: KGS0024
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…an assurance and energy that has fabulous conviction, and the Chapel’s glorious acoustic lingers impressively. Beautifully sustained lines … unfold with a deep sense of musicality and understanding…

– Classical Source

One of the most celebrated English composers of the Renaissance, William Byrd wrote Latin sacred music throughout his professional career, despite the fact that such pieces were banned from being used in church. Most of the music that Byrd composed during his early years was not connected to his official role at all, but was devised as chamber music for performance elsewhere, much of it in clandestine Catholic households.

The motets on this recording are presented in the order in which they appear in the pre-Reformation church year, beginning with Advent. The remarkable range of form, texture and colour in his music allows Stephen Cleobury to showcase the voices of the Choir, as well as the legendary acoustics of the Chapel, in all their glory. Most of the motets are presented here performed by the whole Choir, with a small selection – including the rousing Vigilate and Byrd’s masterpiece Ne irascaris, Domine – performed by the Choral Scholars of the Choir. Accompanying the recording is a specially-commissioned essay on ‘Byrd the Catholic’.

William Byrd
1 Advent Rorate cœli 4:16
2 Advent Vigilate 4:36
3 Candlemas Hodie beata Virgo Maria 2:35
4 Candlemas Alleluia. Senex puerum portabat 1:39
5 Lent Ne irascaris, Domine 3:35
6 Lent Civitas sancti tui 3:59
7 Easter Terra tremuit 0:54
8 Easter Hæc dies 2:33
9 Ascension Tollite portas 1:56
10 Ascension Alleluia. Ascendit Deus. Dominus in Sina 2:24
11 Whitsun Factus est repente 1:45
12 Whitsun Non vos relinquam orphanos 1:35
13 Trinity O lux beata Trinitas 4:32
14 Trinity Laudibus in sanctis 5:37
15 Corpus Christi Ave verum corpus 3:43
16 Corpus Christi Sacerdotes Domini 1:12
17 All Saints Iustorum animæ 2:44
18 All Saints O quam gloriosum 5:00
19 Blessed Virgin Mary Ave Maria 1:37
Total playing time – 56:12

Recorded at 96kHz 24-bit PCM in the Chapel of King’s College, Cambridge, by kind permission of the Provost and Fellows, 12-13 January, 24-25 April & 23 June 2017.

Producer & Editor Benjamin Sheen
Engineering, Mixing & CD Mastering Benjamin Sheen