John Vanderslice’s Old Flame: William Byrd

White Wilderness (Dead Oceans) is the latest album from the San Francisco-based John Vanderslice, and he’s joined on it by the classically trained Magik*Magik Orchestra. MMO artistic director Minna Choi arranged and conducted the Vanderslice-written music on the LP, which was recorded in a whirlwind three-day session by producer John Congleton (St. Vincent, Walkmen, Bill Callahan). Vanderslice himself is no stranger to production, running the Tiny Telephone recording studio for 14 years and having produced records by the likes of Spoon and the Mountain Goats. Now he can add MAGNET guest editor to his resume, as that’s what he’s doing at all week. Read our brand new Q&A with him.

Vanderslice: William Byrd is a towering figure of English Renaissance music. I was first introduced to him by the excellent Glenn Gould recording Consort Of Musicke By William Byrd And Orlando Gibbons. Gould had famously declared Gibbons his favorite composer, but he had leaned more heavily on Byrd for his recordings, noting that Byrd was one of the “naturals” of piano music. And that he was, writing more than 125 pieces for keyboard, including the heartbreaking “First Pavan And Galliard.” He also wrote fantastic vocal music, including three Catholic masses and tons of secular consort songs. The Cambridge Singers recorded a very good collection of Latin motets and English anthems for Collegium, and the Tallis Scholars have done several recordings of the masses.

Video after the jump.