Byrd: Complete Fantasias, Preludes, Voluntaries For Harpsichord (Glen Wilson) (Naxos: 8.572433)
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The fantasia was in the process of being adapted for keyboard from lute and consort music during William Byrd's youth, and his formidable mastery of counterpoint brought the form to a pinnacle equivalent to his matchless vocal works. These splendours combine with lively dances and virtuoso display and quotations from songs of love and death. They also may hold fascinating symbols which mark secret Catholic allegiances, a gift for Elizabeth I, and a memorial to the tragic Mary, Queen of Scots. Our cover image shows the only possible contemporary impression of Byrd, as a Gentleman of the Chapel Royal at the funeral of Elizabeth I.
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