“The whole assortment makes an ideal introduction to one of England's finest composers.…” BBC Music Magazine
“Beautifully performed and finely recorded, this selection of Gibbons's music is especially attractive for its variety. At its richest it presents writing for voice and viols combined, five parts to each, or for viols alone, sometimes in six parts. In lightest, most transparent texture there's a charming piece for two viols. Three keyboard instruments are used for solos: virginals, harpsichord and organ. A soprano also sings solos to viol accompaniment. Moods and styles vary correspondingly. The Masks and Alman for virginals have a high-spirited, almost popular manner; the Fifth Fantasia includes some unusual chromaticism and harmonic developments that for a while almost anticipate Purcell.
Tessa Bonner sings with unvibrant purity; but most striking here is the pronunciation.
It's one of the distinguishing marks of this curiously named group, Red Byrd, that they sing such music with vowel sounds modified to fit theories about the English in which it would originally have been sung. Thus the 'daintie fine bird' tells 'oi sing and doy', and the 'u' acquires a sort of umlaut in I weigh not fortune'sfrown, 'weigh' and 'frown' also having a measure of rusticity. Perhaps it's a good idea, but it does increase the desirability of printed texts in the booklet.
The instrumental music is finely played, the viols avoiding any imputation of belonging to the squeeze-and-scrape school, and Timothy Roberts's keyboard solos are particularly skilful, in legato and fluency.” Gramophone Classical Music Guide, 2010