Byrd Great Service

Byrd: The Great Service
Tallis Scholars - Peter Phillips
Gimell Records 1585-11 [LP]
Gimell Records 1585T-11 [Cassette]
Gimell Records CDGIM 011 [CD]
Gimell 454 911 [CD]


    The Great Service
  1. Venite
  2. Te Deum
  3. Benedictus
  4. Creed
  5. Magnificat
  6. Nunc dimittis
  7. O Lord, make Thy servant Elizabeth
  8. O God, the proud are risen
  9. Sing joyfully unto God

Playing time: 53'

Release date: 1987

Reviewed in:
Gramophone (Vol./#-p.): (June 1987)

The Great Service is one of Byrd's most jubilant compositions, though not one of his most complex. It is a fine example of Anglican service music, here accompanied by three short anthems.

This music is essentially in the style of Byrd's earlier Latin works. He ceased composing motets later in his life, so that high point is reached c.1590 in a couple of prints. Nonetheless, there are many quality Latin works, some of extravagant scope. The beginning of a series promising to survey them:

Byrd Edition - 1
Early Latin Church Music / Propers for Lady Mass in Advent
The Cardinall's Musick - Andrew Carwood & David Skinner
AS&V 170

Byrd's later sacred output, together with the masses, is generally much more compact in its writing and functional in its outline. This is particularly true of the massive Gradualia. A nice recording:

Byrd: Gradualia, Vol. 1
The William Byrd Choir - Gavin Turner
Hyperion 66451

Along with this, he wrote sacred songs in a more intimate idiom.

Other recordings of the Great Service:

Byrd: The Great Service
The Choir of Westminster Abbey - James O'Donnell
Hyperion 67533
Byrd: The Great Service
The Cardinall's Musick - Andrew Carwood
Hyperion 67937

Examples of earlier & later Anglican music by the present ensemble:

Tallis: The Complete English Anthems
Tallis Scholars - Peter Phillips
Gimell 454 907
Tomkins: The Great Service
Tallis Scholar - Peter Phillips
Gimell 454 924

Their other CD recording of Byrd:

Byrd: The Three Masses
Tallis Scholars - Peter Phillips
Gimell 454 945

And a DVD production, including documentary (plus a separate CD version):

Playing Elizabeth's Tune
The Tallis Scholars sing William Byrd
Tallis Scholars - Peter Phillips
Gimell DP/DN 901 (DVD)
Gimell CDGIM 992 (CD)
Gimell GIMSA 592 (SACD)

Finally, a couple of other Byrd collections:

Byrd: Second Service & Consort Anthems
Rogers Covey-Crump / Fretwork / Choir of Magdalen College, Oxford - Bill Ives
Harmonia Mundi USA 907440
Byrd: Great Service / Cantiones Sacrae / Masses / Gradualia
Laudantes Consort - Guy Janssens
Arsonor 010

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Todd M. McComb