Along with the Cantiones Sacrae of the late sixteenth century, William Byrd’s two sets of Gradualia are a towering achievement of renaissance polyphony, and epitomize the English style. Dedicated to Byrd’s patron Sir John Petre and the Catholic recusant community of which Byrd was a prominent member, the motets of the Gradualia are concise settings of the Proprium Missae for the major feasts of the church calendar. Each feast day is given its own sub-section and this principle is followed in these collections for trombone quartet.
Each feast day follows roughly the same textual format: usually Introit, Graduel, Alleluia, Offertoire and Communion, in keeping with the Catholic liturgy. This collection is typical of Byrd’s compositional style of the period, in which the convoluted imitative counterpoint of the Cantiones Sacrae gives way to a more restrained style in which the counterpoint, while still complex and of interest, assumes secondary importance. Long melismatic paragraphs are the exception, often occurring at the end of important phrases.
- Trombone 1 (Alto)
- Trombone 2
- Trombone 3
- Trombone 4 (Bass)