Northern Aldborough Festival Voices provide moving choral music by English Renaissance composer William Byrd for the Festival Eucharist.
William Byrd wrote his three famous masses, for three, four and five voices, in complete secrecy and with the constant threat of exposure and punishment as a Catholic dissident hanging over him. No composer had set the Latin mass texts in England since the reign of Queen Mary Tudor, some decades before, and to work with the essentially Catholic words of the Mass while avoiding detection by Elizabeth I’s secret police was risky in the extreme. Byrd wrote his Mass for Four Voices in 1592, the first of the trilogy to be composed, and its intensely personal dialectic makes it one of his greatest masterpieces. There are moments of truly surpassing beauty, such as the ‘dona nobis pacem’ in the Agnus Dei, that were perhaps unmatched in any of his other compositional output.
This beautiful mass is combined with two stunning motets by Byrd, the Ave Verum and Sacerdotes Domini.