“ASV's Byrd Edition presents Propers for Candlemas (also known as the 'Feast of the Purification'), and further motets from the 1589 CantionesSacrae, many of them composed to strengthen the spirits of the Queen's loyal Catholic subjects in those troubled and highly dangerous times. Which goes to explain the high proportion of sorrowful or penitential texts, the frequent cries for deliverance (AspiceDomine, Ne irascaris, Tribulationes), and the mastery with which Byrd sets them. This historical background, vital to an understanding of the music, doesn't exclude the possibility of a joyful outcome: Byrd can also contemplate the ultimate joys of heaven, (O quam gloriosum, Laetenturcaeli).
The choir enters deeply into an understanding of what lies behind these pieces. And Byrd is never averse to raising his singers' spirits by introducing a jaunty rhythm – the crowing cock in Vigilate, for example – or a bright, rising theme to inspire hope. The choir responds with sustained restraint, perfect balance and crisp rhythms.
The settings of the Propers for Candlemas offer a short recital of their own, this time in the full context of the liturgy for this ancient feast, and following the whole course of events as the story unfolds. A thoroughly satisfying disc.” Gramophone Classical Music Guide, 2010