Byrd / Pieter Belder -Jan - Organ Works | RECORD STORE DAY
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In 2023 Brilliant Classics released a 9CD box of the complete keyboard music by William Byrd, marking the tercentenary of the composer's death. The set was welcomed as a monumental achievement, and a worthy sequel to Davitt Moroney's pioneering achievement on Hyperion: 'Those who enjoyed Belder's forthright and imaginatively ornamented Byrd performances in his complete Fitzwilliam Virginal Book survey will know what to expect,' wrote Jed Distler in Classics Today. 'He favors less agogic manipulation and more conservative rhythmic continuity compared to Hyperion's Davitt Moroney. However, a palpable sense of controlled freedom informs Belder's subtle placement of cadences and phrase endings and his flexibly articulated ornaments.' Extracted from that critically acclaimed set, the present album presents all the pieces recorded bv Pieter-Jan Belder on the at the Albert Kiespenning organ of the Grote Kerk in Wijk bij Duurstede. The degree to which any of these pieces was written 'for organ' may remain open to question, when they could be performed, with allowance for some imaginative liberties, on any keyboard instrument, and indeed many contemporary pianists have revived Byrd's music for a new generation of listeners. Whether experienced on a Steinway or a spinet, Byrd is the first great composer for the keyboard, even when producing instrumental versions of choral anthems. Belder includes several such pieces here, which find a natural home 'in church' rather than the domestic setting of the harpsichord. Two versions of Salvator Mundi are effectively forerunners of chorale preludes; likewise three versions of Clarifica me. Several voluntaries lie no less idiomatically on the organ despite their highly florid writing, while the assorted preludes or fantasias and their companion fugues also deserve to be regarded alongside notable pre-Bachian models by Frescobaldi and Buxtehude. According to Early Music Review: 'As for performance, Belder's strength is in allowing Byrd to speak through the music rather than inflicting an interpretative regime upon the music... It remains wholeheartedly to welcome and recommend this fine discographical achievement.'