Friday, November 16, 2012

Peterhouse Partbooks from The Byrd Ensemble

Not long ago, I highlighted the work of the Blue Heron ensemble to reconstruct and record music from the Peterhouse Partbooks. Here is another group working on the same project: The Byrd Ensemble on Scribe Records. They released a disc last year of music dedicated to Our Lady from the Peterhouse Partbooks.

The Peterhouse Partbooks, a set of partbooks copied around 1540 belonging to Peterhouse, Cambridge, is one of the most important sources of English Latin church music leading up to the Reformation.

Dr. Nick Sandon [the same source of the Blue Heron edition] has spent a large part of his life reconstructing music from the Peterhouse Partbooks. This album contains music from this beloved collection. Dr. Sandon has meticulously reconstructed the tenor parts in tracks 1-3 and has supplied some of the soprano part in track 4 with precision and artistry in order to provide us a sense of the sound world and the expressive writing of Pasche, Merbecke, Ludford and Tallis in the early 16th century.

DR. NICK SANDON studied music at Birmingham University, England and then lectured in music at Exeter University, where he took his doctorate. After several years as Professor of Music at University College, Cork, Ireland, he returned to Exeter as Professor of Music and remained there until his retirement. He now lives in France, where he restores incomplete Tudor compositions, studies medieval liturgy and chant, runs the early music publisher Antico Edition, listens to cricket on the Light Programme, and cultivates his garden.

On the disc:

William Pasche (fl. early 16th c.) – MAGNIFICAT (15:27) world-premiere recording

John Merbecke (c.1510-1585) – AVE DEI PATRIS FILIA (13:58) world-premiere recording (although there exists another recording of this piece reconstructed by David Skinner)

Nicholas Ludford (c.1485-1557) – SALVE REGINA (16:11) world-premiere recording

Thomas Tallis (c.1505-1585) – AVE ROSA SINE SPINIS (10:49)

Here is a link to the CD booklet for this disc. Unfortunately, the two groups are not recording the same music, so it will be hard to compare their efforts.


  1. Replies
    1. You're welcome. It's definitely on my wish-list! What a great project; I like the blue background on the CD cover, so appropriate for a disc of music dedicated to Mary!