What can you say about this man who is arguably the greatest English composer ever? Byrd's key output is not large, but when you consider that his Ave Verum Corpus is often considered the most perfect anthem ever written (I'm afraid Mozart's rendition isn't in the same league, while Elgar's is frankly not one of his better works), and then throw in the unbelievably simple yet taxing masses in 3, 4 and 5 parts you've already got a canon of church music that is hard to rival. And of course there's more to Byrd than that. Even minor pieces, like his settings of the Preces and Responses are remarkably good. And all this achieved as a Catholic in a defiantly Protestant nation.


The Masses - Westminster Cathedral Choir
The three, four and five part masses in all their glory, with a bit of organ music thrown in for good measure. Of the three, the four part, the earliest to be written is probably the best - the Agnus Dei simply pushes you out of this world when you listen to it - but they are all superb. As a bonus includes Byrd's best known gem of a motet, Ave Verum Corpus.


Byrd: Anthems, Motets and Services - Hereford Cathedral Choir
An interesting mix of motets, a couple of English anthems and two magnificat and nunc dimittis settings. Though Hereford is not one of the best-known cathedral choirs, they give Byrd the treatment he deserves.

Gradualia 1607: Psallite Domino, Cantiones sacrae 1589: Ne irascaris, Cantiones sacrae 1589: Laetentur caeli, Gradualia 1605: Senex puerum portabat, Sing joyfully, Gradualia 1607: Non vos relinquam, Cantiones sacrae 1589: Vigilate, Gradualia 1607: Justorum animae, Cantiones sacrae 1589: Haec dies, Teach me, O Lord: Teach me, O Lord, Gradualia 1605: Rorate coeli desuper, Gradualia 1605: Ave verum corpus, Second Service: Magnificat, Second Service: Nunc dimittis, Cantiones sacrae 1591: Exsurge, Domine, Gradualia 1607: Sacerdotes Domini, Short Service: Magnificat, Short Service: Nunc dimittis, Cantiones sacrae 1591: Laudibus in sanctis

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