Albertus Bryne (or, if his name were updated to modern English usage, "Bryan") was a contemporary of Matthew Locke, though he might have been a little older -- his exact birthdate is unknown. He is also said to have been the first English composer to organize his little dance movements into suites, an observation that seems a bit more out of convenience for defining his import than direct evidence. Locke's keyboard suites cannot be accurately dated and several appear in the same posthumous publication, Musick's Hand-Maid, which also transmits the Suite in A minor that is the first heard on Deux-Elles' Albertus Bryne: Keyboard Music. Keyboardist Terence Charlston has prepared an integral edition of Bryne's keyboard corpus, and though the disc isn't called "complete," this certainly accounts for all of it -- eight suites, an organ voluntary, and two fugitive pieces. Charlston usefully adds a small selection of works by others -- John Bull, Christopher Gibbons, and some anonymous works -- to help place Bryne's work in its proper context.
Another wise choice on Charlston's part was to vary the instruments on which the pieces are played; organ works are played on an organ at St. Bodolph's in Aldgate that dates from the early eighteenth century, single and double manual harpsichords and a spinet are used for the remainder. Even though this does provide the needed variety to keep these very short pieces from running together in one's head, listening straight through isn't the right way to go about it -- parceling it out is more satisfactory. When it comes to keyboard music, Bryne was not only Locke's contemporary, in many ways he was Locke's equal. The rhythm in the "Jigg Almaine" from the first D minor Suite and the "Saraband" from the first D major Suite is highly eccentric and syncopated, even slightly "funky." The "Almaines" that open the first D major Suite and the second A minor one are genuinely moving and beautiful pieces, short as they are. There are certainly other highlights, some of which may yield through repeated listening.
This is a labor of love for Charlston, and one aspect of Deux-Elles' Albertus Bryne: Keyboard Music that does come through is his love of this music. While one may question whether Bryne was the first Englishman to write proper keyboard suites, or even if that this can be known given the sources we have, without question Bryne was a key figure in the transition from the virginal music exemplified by William Byrd to a true Baroque style. Deux-Elles' Albertus Bryne: Keyboard Music does absolute justice to the intriguing and substantive work of this significant composer.