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GRAMOPHONE (03/2022)
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Reviewer: Philip Kennicott

With this new collection of works by William Byrd, harpsichordist Friederike Chylek returns to a composer who has been a focus of her career for years. I reviewed her earlier collection, ‘From Byrd to Byrd’ (4/19), which included Byrd alongside contemporaries and near contemporaries. I found that effort well played, straightforward and perhaps a little wanting in invention and profile. Unfortunately, her most recent effort is pretty much the same: polite, unfussy and just a little too cautious and safe to make this music come alive.

There is a gentle swing to the Irish March from Byrd’s Battell collection but little sense of narrative arc. The Earl of Oxford’s March (‘The March before the Battle’) is crisp and cleanly rendered, all the ornaments neatly executed and sensible, but it doesn’t whip up much excitement. The same failing plagues several of the longer works in this collection, with variations following one another without much sense of individual character.

The notes to the recording properly note Byrd’s outsize place in the annals of English music, and Chylek’s admiration is palpable. But it might make sense for her to explore more broadly, and perhaps return to Byrd when she has a sharper sense of what she wants this music to do.

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