From Byrd to Byrd
Works by Bull, Byrd, Dowland, Gibbons, Lawes, Locke, Purcell & Morley
Friederike Chylek (harpsichord)
Oehms Classics OC 1702 67:24 mins
German harpsichordist Friederike Chylek is evidently something of a musical anglophile. Not only was her first solo disc devoted to the golden age of English keyboard music; anchored by William Byrd, this sequel revisits the terrain – delivered on a sonorous copy of a Ruckers instrument built in the year following Byrd’s death, and exploring a programme bookended by The Bells and an extended apostrophe on the hornpipe; love-letters, both, to Byrd’s supreme mastery of the art of variation.
In The Bells she’s arguably a touch stiff compared to Davitt Moroney in his sterling set of the complete keyboard works on Hyperion; but there’s a structural steadfastness that generates a cumulative grandeur in all of the more extended works. Monsieur’s Alman No. 2, for example, similarly engineers ringing authority and purposefulness. But her fastidious attentiveness is just as illuminating in the shorter pieces – a G minor Saraband by William Lawes weighs in at a blink-and-you-miss-it 41 seconds. Above all, her ability to make points of imitation register with the utmost clarity underlines a contrapuntal ingenuity leavened by the breezy jog through a Suite from Matthew Locke’s Melothesia. She makes light work of John Bull’s coruscating embellishments to Dowland, while investing Purcell’s Bell-bar Almand with a jauntiness that contrasts with Richard Egarr’s soulful Harmonia Mundi account. All told, an agreeably stimulating anthology that mines a rich seam and strikes keyboard gold.