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Price comparison product image The Fitzwilliam Virginal Book,  Selections. Volume III

The Fitzwilliam Virginal Book, Selections. Volume III

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This late Renaissance to early Baroque music, mid sixteenth to early seventieth century, as it appears on those selections, is loaded with an irresistible lyricism and charm.

These compositions from a couple of centuries before the emergence of the modern piano, are conceived in a radically different tuning system and they use "church (ecclesiastical) modes" instead of tonalities (keys) as we know them today. However, they do sound exceptionally captivating and alluring on the modern piano. I believe their lyrical core is even better projected when played on a piano.

Unlike for the musicologist or the historian, for myself, the question of historical authenticity remains only be a minor concern. It is relevant only as far as it leads to set the ground for the best unfolding and projection of the exquisite sensibility which emerges from those pages.

My ornamentation, tempos and even my interpretation of some doubtful accidentals and rhythms were all aimed towards the communication of the spirit of those works rather than exposing a dry "historical authenticity", vague term often used as a shield for poor musicality.

Pieces featured in this album can be roughly grouped into roughly five categories.

First category may be called "individual character pieces". With suggesting titles like "Tell mee, Daphne" (G. Farnaby) or "The King's Hunt" (J. Bull), these are predicting the best of Couperin and Rameau pieces. They are amazingly suggestive and brilliant in their settings.

Another popular category is "Fantasia"s, sometimes titled "Ut re mi ..." (spelling out the theme) where rich contrapuntal textures alternate with brilliant virtuoso passages. One or more fugato style sections often involving four to six voices are followed by "variations" called "Rep." where fast and light, brilliant keyboard technique is required.

The regular pair "Pavana and Galiard(a)" constitute a very common form as well. Both the "Pavanas" and the "Galiard(a)s" are generally made of two or three parts, each followed by their variations.

A number of individual Pavanas and a lesser number of Galiards by many composers can also be found in the books.

Liturgical music is scarcely present too. There is a few Psalms and common Catholic prayers often elaborated as "Fantasias" with contrapuntal settings alternating with instrumental passages.

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