This two-CD set is Alamire’s follow-up to their superb 2021 release, Byrd 1588: Psalmes, Sonets & Songs of Sadnes & Pietie. Both music and performances are equally compelling.

English Renaissance composer William Byrd’s second songbook, Songs of Sundrie Natures (1589) comprises 34 songs variously scored for three, four, five and six parts. In the same year Byrd published Book 1 of the Cantiones sacrae; a second volume of Latin sacred songs was to follow in 1591. Later that decade came the extraordinary mass settings; in the next decade, the Gradualia.

An album cover with a bird head photoshopped onto an illustrated Victorian gown.

In his preface to Songs of Sundrie Natures, Byrd writes that he is “desirous to delight thee with varietie” and that songs should “serve for all companies and voyces”. It is this variety of scoring, styles and settings which David Skinner’s vocal consort Alamire and legendary viol consort Fretwork bring so brilliantly to life. I should also mention that mezzo soloists Martha McLorinan...