Among the most prized exhibits of Fitzwilliam College, Cambridge, stands the Fitzwilliam Virginal Book, the largest surviving anthology of Elizabethan and Jacobean keyboard music. Dating from a period during which theory and notation were undergoing radical change, the collection was probably compiled by Francis Tregian and falls just short of 300 compositions. These include a number by William Byrd, the foremost composer of the Elizabethan age.
Bringing together all of Byrd's works as featured in the anthology, this release contains many sets of variations -- including the infamous Walsingham MB8, which comprises no less than 22 embellished statements of the theme. The piece ranks among the most virtuosic of the composer's keyboard compositions, and appears alongside several instrumental dances such as the Pavan and Galliard. Often modal in flavour, these abound in rhythmic energy and continuity -- important features considering the static harmony and repetitive nature of the material. The Carman's Whistle also makes an appearance, a piece first popularised by Arthur Rubinstein during his historical recital programmes and which was later arranged by Percy Grainger.
A leading expert in the field of early music, Pieter-Jan Belder has recorded widely for Brilliant Classics over the years and returns once again to perform this illustrious programme of works. The release is an engaging follow-up to the first volume in the series, extending its instrumental range to include performances on a 1604 virginal by Ruckers as well as a chest organ, and comprises essential listening for keyboardists and early music aficionados alike.
- Second volume of a unique project: the first complete recording of the Fitzwilliam Virginal Book, dedicated to William Byrd.
- Recorded 19 & 20 October 2011, Westvestkerk Schiedam (CD1); 26 May & 1 June 2012, Doopsgezinde gemeente Dordrecht (CD2).
- A great achievement of Pieter-Jan Belder, one of the most respected and frequently recorded keyboard (harpsichord, clavichord, virginal, organ, hammerklavier) players of today. His recordings of Bach, Rameau, CPE Bach and Scarlatti (complete Sonatas!) have met with great critical acclaim in the international press.
- Belder plays a unique original Ruckers instrument from 1604, the details of which are described in the extensive liner notes in the booklet.
- Includes detailed notes on the history of the Fitzwilliam Virginal Book and the 1604 virginal used in the recording, notes on William Byrd's contribution to the anthology, and an artist biography