William Byrd, John Bull: The Visionaries of Piano Music [includes Booklet]

Kit Armstrong

(Digital Download - Deutsche Grammophon #)

Review by James Manheim

To call William Byrd and John Bull "visionaries of piano music," as pianist Kit Armstrong does here, may be taking it a bit far, but it's not out of the question to perform English Renaissance keyboard music on the piano. Glenn Gould used to do so from time to time, and when the music of Byrd and especially Bull was first being unearthed, the piano was the default. It's likely, however, that the short pieces here have never received performances as detailed as these. Armstrong nicely differentiates the sober and classical Byrd from the wildly virtuosic Bull, whose music still has a distinctly experimental feel at a distance of four centuries. His execution of Bull's parallel runs is brilliant, and there's a delightfully fantasy-like quality to the variation sets. More generally, there's the kind of X factor here that comes from a performer's total commitment to and enthusiasm for a body of music, with all kinds of striking details. The album is beautifully recorded, and for all except those to whom Renaissance music on a piano is just a bridge too far, it will be quite a revelation.

Track Listing

Title/Composer Performer Time Stream
1 Kit Armstrong 00:40 SpotifyAmazon
Sir William Petre, MB 3
2 Kit Armstrong 04:42 SpotifyAmazon
3 Kit Armstrong 02:33 SpotifyAmazon
The Battle, MB 94
4 Kit Armstrong 01:48 SpotifyAmazon
5 Kit Armstrong 03:37 SpotifyAmazon
6 Kit Armstrong 05:32 SpotifyAmazon
7 Kit Armstrong 05:22 SpotifyAmazon
8 Kit Armstrong 03:58 SpotifyAmazon
Fantastic Pavan & Galliard, MB 86
9 Kit Armstrong 04:43 SpotifyAmazon
10 Kit Armstrong 01:37 SpotifyAmazon
11 Kit Armstrong 03:40 SpotifyAmazon
Laet ons met herten reijne (MB 14/56; BL Add. MS 23623 f. 65)
12 Kit Armstrong 01:02 SpotifyAmazon
13 Kit Armstrong 02:04 SpotifyAmazon
14 Kit Armstrong 03:21 SpotifyAmazon
15 Kit Armstrong 13:13 SpotifyAmazon
The Earl of Salisbury, MB 15
16 Kit Armstrong 02:03 SpotifyAmazon
17 Kit Armstrong 01:17 SpotifyAmazon
18 Kit Armstrong 03:36 SpotifyAmazon
19 Kit Armstrong 06:08 SpotifyAmazon
20 Kit Armstrong 04:34 SpotifyAmazon
21 Kit Armstrong 01:55 SpotifyAmazon
22 Kit Armstrong 04:28 SpotifyAmazon
23 Kit Armstrong 07:08 SpotifyAmazon
24 Kit Armstrong 01:44 SpotifyAmazon
25 Kit Armstrong 04:13 SpotifyAmazon
26 Kit Armstrong 03:11 SpotifyAmazon
27 Kit Armstrong 06:31 SpotifyAmazon
28 Kit Armstrong 04:54 SpotifyAmazon
29 Kit Armstrong 03:28 SpotifyAmazon
30 Kit Armstrong 08:51 SpotifyAmazon
31 Kit Armstrong 04:19 SpotifyAmazon
32 Kit Armstrong 03:53 SpotifyAmazon
33 Kit Armstrong 05:03 SpotifyAmazon
blue highlight denotes track pick