On my music stand today is the first of William Byrd’s two In nomines in four parts, another in the current series of consort pieces scored for trTTB.

Byrd’s rendering of the In nomine is as clear and limpid as the Taverner original in four parts. It relies for its beauty on the delicate scale passages, descending (thoughtful) in the first half and rising (hopeful) in the second, with intermittent dissonances along the way.

My preferred tempo is a lilting, gliding two-in-the-bar. Any slower and the sense of momentum, of  “speaking” clearly to the audience, is lost.

Players need to be aware of the long, vocal-like phrases: split up, they look and sound like something out of a psalm or a chorale. The odd ornamental touches at cadences (bb.4, 20, 21, 23, 37, 39, 59) need to be unrushed.

byrd in nomine a4 no1

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