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William Byrd

Up to De Standaard

De Standaard (25 January, 2023)

The  second part of Stile Antico’s Golden Renaissance trilogy zooms in on the motets, masses and songs that Tudor composer William Byrd wrote for the clandestine gatherings of Catholics in Reformation England: polyphonic webs that – despite the broad audience that Byrd had in mind – turned out to be fodder for specialists rather than dilettantes. Stile Antico tackles the sophisticated counterpoint with the flawless technique we have come to expect from them. The mix of choral sound and individual vocal expression is also a trademark of the British, but this time the emphasis is clearly on the collective: a smart move that maximizes the unique ‘flavour’ of this overseas polyphony. Especially in the English-language songs, this produces a fascinating, iridescent sonic picture, with constantly changing colour and intensity which lend the prayers a deeply human urgency.