Bernard Cuiller plays William Byrd

Pescodd Time is part of Alpha Classic’s ongoing reissue series of significant early music recordings. The disc was the first recorded by harpsichordist and conductor Bertrand Cuiller and showcases his love of English renaissance music — particularly that of William Byrd.

I don’t have the original release, so I can’t say if it’s been remastered. But the sound quality of this 2005 release is quite good. The instruments are close-mic’d, but not overly so. I could hear the action, but rather than detract from the music, it simply added to the authenticity of the performance.

Cuiller’s program includes a variety of keyboard works by Byrd. Works like the Fantasia in D minor and the In nomine IX (basically theme and variations) show the richness of Byrd’s musical imagination as the melodies transform from the very simple to the beautifully ornate.

Byrd’s settings of pavanes, galliards, allemandes, and courantes have a certain elegance to them. As Cuiller notes, “they don’t seem intended to be actually danced,” but rather “invites us to dance and sing inwardly.”

No question — this recording was worthy of a re-release. I’m glad it’s available again.

William Byrd: Pescodd Time
Bertrand Cuiller, harpsichord
Alpha Classics ALPHA 319

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