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Robert Fayrfax (1464 - 1521): Music for Tudor Kings & Queens


In that golden age of British choral music half a millennium ago, when polyphonic voices soared in the vaulting of the great late-Gothic churches and chapels that seemed to have been built for them to fill, one composer was in especial favour with the royal family: Robert Fayrfax.

A newly reconstructed movement from a mass for the private wedding of Henry VIII and Catherine of Aragon, later treasured in darker times by the recusant gentry for its Catholic associations, sits here alongside exuberant masterpieces from the Eton Choirbook and, in intimate contrast, Fayrfax’s seven surviving courtly songs, brought together on a single recording for the first time.

An exciting new signing for Delphian, Ensemble Pro Victoria’s young professionals bring both freshness and individuality to Fayrfax’s music in the five hundredth anniversary year of his death.

"Vigorous and compelling, here are healthy, visceral voices of technical superiority, accuracy, ensemble and intonation in recorded sound of burnished luminosity. A debut CD which promises much"

"the selection of material makes for a fascinating programme, and it benefits from being performed by one of Britain’s finest young vocal ensembles, who in turn are supported by musical scholarship of the highest order, led by Magnus Williamson ... This is the first commercial disc to include all of Fayrfax’s surviving songs, which are interspersed among the longer Latin works throughout the recording, which is topped and tailed by two of his finest and best-known liturgical pieces ... Ensemble Pro Victoria plough their own furrow with a passionate engagement that does no great disservice whatsoever to Fayrfax’s transcendent music"


"There is such spirit to these performances ... Including all seven of Fayrfax's surviving courtly songs, heard on a single disc for the first time ... I can't recommend Magnus Williamson's booklet notes enough. Professor of Early Music at Newcastle University, Williamson leads the reader through the background to this music, its construction and its context brilliantly, the perfect adjunct to these brilliantly focused performances from Ensemble Pro Victoria, caught in the lovely acoustic of St Brandon's Church, Brancepeth, County Durham"


'Fayrfax's music, as illustrated in these religious works and partsongs, is both sophisticated and charming. It predates the easier eloquence of Tallis and Byrd, with a gutsiness – in some cases a rawness – that lights up such flavoursome examples as the substantial Magnificat Regale, a fascinating Credo reconstruction, and his fine partsong, Sumwhat musyng'

Catalogue Number: DCD34265

Release Date: 22 October 2021

Recorded on 8-10 March 2021 in St Brandon’s Church, Brancepeth, County Durham

Producer/Engineer: Paul Baxter

24-bit digital editing: James Waterhouse

24-bit digital mastering: Paul Baxter

Design: Drew Padrutt

Booklet editor: Henry Howard

Cover: Michiel Sittow (c.1469–1525), Mary Rose Tudor or Catherine of Aragon, oil on wood, Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna

Session photography:

Singing In Secret: Clandestine Catholic Music by William Byrd CD Delphian Records


Magnificat Regale

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