BYRD AND THE EUROPEAN FRINGEThe Stondon Singers at Stondon Massey
William Byrd's celebratory Haec Dies was the curtain raiser to this anniversary concert, a fascinating collection of works, sacred and profane, by his contemporaries in Renaissance Europe.
Freedom of movement seems to have been no problem – Franco-Flemish or Scandinavian musicians migrating to find work in Italy or Spain, for instance. Such as Mogens Pederson, a Dane who met Gabrieli in Venice; we heard three of his delightful Italian madrigals.
Two settings of Vox in Rama: chromatic from Giaches de Wert, working in Spain, and exquisitely expressive from Polish composer Mikolaj Zielinski – fine singing from the Stondons under Christopher Tinker's direction. They also excelled in Byrd's Ave Verum of 1605, and in the nicely rounded sound of O Vos Omnes by one Robert Ramsey, who may have moved south from his native, independent Scotland in the retinue of his monarch in 1603.
A bonus on this glorious evening in Byrd's local church – lute music from Mike Ashley, with Annabel Malton soprano, including two contrasting pieces from another persistent Papist, master of melancholia John Dowland.