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Early Music

Classical Editor: Rob Barnett                               Founder Len Mullenger

The Essential Tallis Scholars
CD 1
Gregorio ALLEGRI (1582-1652)
1 Miserere (12.28)
Tomás Luis da VICTORIA (1548-1611)
2 Ave Maria (double choir) (4.49)
Giovanni Pierluigi da PALESTRINA (c.1525-1594)
3 Sicut lilium I (4.45)
JOSQUIN des Prés (c.1440-1521)
4 Praeter rerum seriem (7.21)
Thomas CRECQUILLON (c.1505/10-1557)

5 Pater peccavi (8.39)
Jacob CLEMENS Non Papa (c.1510-c.1555)
6 Ego flos campi (4.09)
Heinrich ISAAC (c.1450-1517)
7 Tota pulchra es (8.57)
Cipriano de RORE (c.1515-c.1565)
8 Descendi in hortum meum (5.26)
Orlandus LASSUS (1532-1594)
9 Alma Redemptoris Mater (3.07)
10 Salve Regina (3.58)
11 Ave Regina caelorum (3.52)
Antoine BRUMEL (c.1450-c.1520)
12 Missa Et ecce terrae motus: Gloria (9.36)
CD 2
John SHEPPARD (c.1515-c.1559)
1 Media vita (21.34)
Thomas TALLIS (c.1505-1585)
2 In manus tuas (2.11)
3 O nata lux (2.05)
4 Audivi vocem (4.11)
Robert WHITE (c.1538-1574)
5 Exaudiat te Dominus (9.46)
William CORNYSH (d.1523)
6 Ah, Robin (2.31)
7 Salve regina (13.51)
William BYRD (1543-1623)
Mass for five voices
8 Kyrie (1.27)
9 Gloria (4.57)
10 Credo (8.42)
11 Sanctus & Benedictus (3.48)
12 Agnus Dei (3.29)
Tallis Scholars/Peter Phillips
All works recorded between 1980 to 1995 at either Merton College Chapel, Oxford, England and the Church of St. Peter and St. Paul, Salle, Norfolk, England.
GIMELL CDGIM201 [2CDs: 155.00]


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This release from Gimell entitled The Essential Tallis Scholars, is more than a run-of-the-mill compilation album of back catalogue excerpts. It is a wonderful recording in its own right. Acclaimed by many eminent music writers as the world’s finest mixed voice choir in Renaissance music, the award winning Tallis Scholars offer over two and a half hours of superb music magnificently sung.

The unaccompanied sacred choral works on this double CD have been compiled from over fifteen years of recording by the Tallis Scholars. Over the years the Tallis Scholars have made more than 35 CDs, recorded almost exclusively in two venues, Merton College Chapel in Oxford and at Salle Church in Norfolk. In the excellent sleeve notes Peter Phillips, co-founder and director of the ensemble, informs the reader that both these buildings were chosen for the clarity of their acoustic.

The first CD is comprises continental works scored predominantly for soprano, alto, tenor and bass and in the case of the Flemish composers a low soprano. By contrast the second CD contains works by English composers which generally are idiosyncratically scored for various vocal parts, including a high treble with four independent voice ranges underneath. Peter Phillips points out that consequently the English music on CD 2 tends to be lighter and brighter than the more densely scored Flemish writing on CD 1. He adds that those works here by Palestrina and Victoria come somewhere between the two traditions.

The first work on this release is the popular masterpiece and often recorded Miserere by Gregorio Allegri, which comes outside the above discussion as it was not written in Renaissance polyphony, being composed in a later era than the other works. The Tallis Scholars version of the Miserere successfully features the voice of Alison Stamp in the boy treble part and the 1980 recording has become established as the foremost recommendation for the work. I have loved this recording since its original release and to imagine a better version of this Miserere would be virtually impossible.

I do not intend to review the individual merits of the remaining works on this release. It would be a pointless and repetitious exercise as they are all exceptionally well sung with purity and clarity by a very talented group of performers; who are clearly passionate about this repertoire.

Superbly presented by Gimell this double CD release is an outstanding bargain. No listener will be disappointed with any of these flawless performances from the Tallis Scholars and the sound quality is outstanding too. This is more than just a mere compilation album. This is indispensable listening which can be recommended without any hesitation.

Michael Cookson

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