on 25 April 2009
Fayrfax's music is beautiful and not unlike the music of John Taverner (the Tudor fellow, not the modern guy with the propensity towards mysticism). And, perhaps its that early tudor period which is the most celestial in musical vision. I think something is lost in the music of later composers, such as Byrd.
Being a relative latecomer to the ensemble "The Cardinall's Musick", I had hoped to be able to obtain their five discs of Robert Fayrfax's music, but at the time I bought this they were either unavailable, or only in ultra-expensive second hand copies (at the time of writing this review the original five discs are available once again). This three disc reduced set comprising the quintet of Fayrfax's surviving masses taken from those discs seemed like a decent second best option though and a bargain in price. Also here is a new recording, a recently discovered motet by Fayrfax "Anima Christe".
TCM's performances of Faryfax's five-part masses are beautifully sonorous, carrying the listener along in gentle undulations, although with three voices per part (the arrangement being SATBarB x 3) it lacks a certain textual clarity. The booklet contains some interesting notes, sung texts and translations and the sheet music for the motet.