"The most principall and chiefest kind of musicke which is made without a dittie is the fantasie, that is, when a musician taketh a point at his pleasure, and wresteth and turneth it as he list. In this may more art be showne than in any other musicke, because the composer is tide to nothing but that he may adde, deminish, and alter at his pleasure."
During Byrd’s youth the fantasia was increasingly adapted for the keyboard from consort music and music for the Lute. Byrd, as anyone whose listened to his choral music can vouch, had a formidable grasp of counterpoint which when applied to his instrumental pieces brought them to a height that is at least equal to his vocal works. Byrd’s Fantasia in D Minor reveals as Colin Tilney puts it ‘just how untied he felt’ he starts conventionally enough with some imitative polyphony but almost immediately breaks free and takes us first through some antiphonal block harmonies before progressing to increasingly fast two-handed runs. Enjoy :-).
William Byrd (±1539-1623): Fantasia in D Minor (Musica Britannica, Vol. 28, No. 46)
Performers: Colin Tilney