- Thomas Tallis - The Father of English Church Music [Recommended Recordings]
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Thomas Tallis
Recommended Recordings

Lamentations of Jeremiah
(Rogers Covey-Crump, Michael George, et al; Hilliard Ensemble; Paul Hillier, conductor)
If you went to the other side of the universe from where barbershop music and doo-wop reside, you'd discover the five-voice Hilliard Ensemble singing Tallis. And if you happen to love this sort of music, you'd think this must be heaven. On the other hand, if you're not sure you'd like the Hilliards or Tallis, here's the perfect place to find out. The two sets of Lamentations are supreme among Tallis's longer works, exhibiting full mastery of choral part-writing and effective use of harmonic and textural contrast. The outward solemnity of these works is sustained by the music's underlying impassioned, penitential mood--which finds ideal expression in the otherworldly beauty of these perfectly matched men's voices that bring phenomenal interpretive and technical skill to each line and closing cadence. (review by David Vernier)

Spem in Alium, etc
(Performer: Timothy Byram-Wigfield; Winchester Cathedral Choir, Vocal Arts Choir, et al; David Hill, conductor )
This recording has a huge advantage over most of its rivals for the attention of Tallis listeners: the wonderful acoustics of Winchester Cathedral. In this magnificent space, the soaring lines and resplendent harmonies of Tallis's greatest masterpieces find sympathetic resonance, resulting in a heightened dramatic presence that takes the music beyond earthly confines. Of course, beyond the exceptional quality of the writing, credit must go to the phenomenal men and boys of Winchester Cathedral Choir. Where, even in England, does one find trebles who sing with more assuredness, musicality, and beauty of tone? With a repertoire including "In ieiunio et fletu," "Salvator mundi," "In manus tuas," "The Lamentations of Jeremiah," "O nata lux," and the unbelievable 40-part motet "Spem in alium," this is the Tallis disc to own if you're buying only one. (review by David Vernier)

Tallis - Complete Works Vol 1
(Chapelle du Roi; Alistair Dixon, conductor )
This disc is an auspicious beginning to La Chapelle du Roi's survey of the complete works of Thomas Tallis. Volume I of the set covers works from early in the composer's career, before the English Reformation, including two lengthy anthems to the Virgin Mary, Ave Dei patris filia and Salve intemerata, along with the Mass setting Tallis based on the latter. Sometimes the long, winding melodies of these works can seem to drone on forever, but not when sung by La Chapelle du Roi: they fill the soaring, interlocking lines with energy and sing the reduced-voice sections with solo voices (a well-documented practice that has not, for some reason, universally caught on), thus giving a nice sense of contrast and architecture to these long pieces. In fact, their performance of Salve intemerata compares quite favorably to the Tallis Scholars' recording of a few years back. (review by Matthew Westphal)


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