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Thomas TALLIS (1505-1585)
The Complete Works
Music for Henry VIII
Music at the Reformation
Music for Queen Mary
Music for the Divine Office 1
Music for the Divine Office 2
Music for a Reformed Church
Music for Queen Elizabeth
The Lamentations and Contrafacta
The Instrumental Music and Songs 1
The Instrumental Music and Songs 2

Full contents at end of review
Chapelle du Roi/Alistair Dixon; Andrew Benson-Wilson (organ)
Charivari Agréable: Lynda Sayce (lute) Laurence Cummings (virginal, harpsichord) Andrew Benson-Wilson (organ) Stephen Taylor (counter-tenor)
rec. 1996-2004, St Augustine’s Church, Kilburn; St Jude’s Church, Hampstead; The Chapel, Knole House, Sevenoaks; All Hallows’ Church, Gospel Oak; St Andrew’s Church, Toddington. DDD
BRILLIANT CLASSICS 93612 [10 CDs: 657:34]
Experience Classicsonline

Tallis lived during a time of tremendous religious upheaval. The succession from Henry VIII to Edward VI, Edward to Mary Tudor and Mary to Elizabeth meant changes from Catholic to Protestant, and back again with Mary, before Elizabeth’s “third way” – a more accepting and moderate form of Protestantism.
 
Tallis lived through all of this, highly respected and admired in his day for his compositions, and, remarkably enough, managed to please each monarch in turn. During his life-time he produced some glorious, inspiring, and deeply uplifting music. This 10-disc set from Brilliant Classics, featuring the Chapelle du Roi, presents the complete works, including recordings of music that have hitherto been unrecorded. How lovely to have a complete set of works.
 
The first disc, entitled Music for Henry VIII, features sacred music written between around 1530 and 1540, a time when church music was at an apex. During this time, Tallis worked first as organist at the small Benedictine monastery of Dover Priory, then at St Mary-at-Hill in Billingsgate and then the Augustinian abbey of Holy Cross at Waltham in Essex. This was the last English abbey to be dissolved two years after Tallis had started working there. He then moved on to Canterbury Cathedral, where he was a lay-clerk for two years before being made a Gentleman of the Chapel Royal, a role he kept for the rest of his life. This disc features the Mass Salve Intemerata, and opens with the glorious Ave Dei Patris Filia.
 
Disc two is Music at the Reformation. This was most likely all composed during the 1540s, a time of great change in religious practices in England, and the musical expression and accompaniment of the works reflect this. English translations of Latin liturgical texts were being made and set to music, although Latin texts never entirely went out of fashion during Tallis’s day. Here, we find a collection of both Latin (the Mass for Four Voices, Magnificat and Sanctus Deus, for example) and English works (such as If Ye Love Me, Remember Not, O Lord God).
 
The music on the third disc dates from the reign of Mary Tudor, during which the Latin rites were fully restored. The disc includes the substantial Mass Puer natus est nobis and the votive antiphon Gaude gloriosa.
 
Discs four and five are Music for the Divine Office – works composed for the Canonical Hours (eight daily services) - Matins, Lauds, Prime, Terce, Sext, None, Vespers and Compline. Tallis’s music for these services probably mostly dates from his time as a Gentleman of the Chapel Royal, and includes a Magnificat, Alleluia, offertory, responsories, organ music, antiphons, and hymns that are delightfully innovative, despite being, at their most basic levels, settings of original plainchants.
 
Music for a Reformed Church is the title of the sixth disc, comprising works written for the reformed services laid out in The booke of the common prayer, after the 1549 Act for the Uniformity of Service. This Act enforced services in the vernacular, and on this disc we have the standard daily liturgical sequence of Matins, Holy Communion, and Evensong (for which Tallis wrote canticles and anthems, the Venite, Te Deum, Benedictus, Magnificat, Nunc Dimittis, Kyrie and Credo), along with the associated intonations and collects. The disc concludes with the nine tunes which Tallis composed for Archbishop Matthew Parker’s Psalter.
 
Disc seven, featuring Latin motets, is entitled Music for Queen Elizabeth. During Elizabeth’s reign, the arts flourished, new ideas blossomed, and there was greater stability - both political, and also in culture and the arts. Tallis’s Latin motets demonstrate this, drawing as they do upon new compositional ideas from abroad, whilst being based in the English traditions. Mostly scored for five voices, they set both liturgical and non-liturgical texts, and include Tallis’s masterpiece Spem in Alium, for forty parts.
 
Lamentations and Contrafacta comprise disc eight, including two settings of the Lamentations of Jeremiah and English versions of some of Tallis’s most celebrated Latin motets (including Sing and glorify heaven’s high majesty, an English rendition of Spem in alium).
 
The two final discs are recordings of the Instrumental Music and Songs. Whilst some of Tallis’s secular pieces are arrangements made of sacred works. An example can be found on the sixth track of disc 9, an adaptation of Tallis’s organ piece Felix namque - based on the plainchant melody) for lute – an instrument for which we have no extant works by Tallis. Other pieces may have been written for performance by secular musicians at the Tudor court, or for the training or teaching of choirboys, or even for choirboys’ plays. It is even possible that his keyboard works might have been written for Queen Elizabeth, a good amateur musician. Most of Tallis’s keyboard music and the partsongs - possibly also for choirboy plays - has come down to us from a manuscript anthology compiled by Thomas Mulliner in the late 1550s and early 1560s, and known as the ‘Mulliner Book’. Disc 9 concludes with William Byrd’s Ye sacred Muses, in which the one great composer laments the death of the other in a touching work of great power and intensity. The final disc features the Litany, Felix Namque in its original organ version, and the Verset I and II, of dubious authorship.
 
There are no sleeve-notes in this set. Rather, they are presented on a 75-page PDF on a CD-ROM, which include texts and translations, as well as extensive notes. Many, like me, may prefer an actual booklet; we may not always have a computer to hand when we want to listen to a disc! In the notes for the first four discs, whole swathes of text are repeated. Nevertheless, one can eventually discover all the information about these works and recordings that one wants to. The notes are very thorough and scholarly.
 
The performances on these discs are of the very highest quality. Chapelle du Roi is a highly respected group that specializes in sacred music of the renaissance period, making them perfect exponents of Tallis’s music. They are under the highly competent musicianship of their founding director Alistair Dixon. Other artists featured include organist Andrew Benson-Wilson, the early-music ensemble Charivari Agréable, Lawrence Cummings on virginals and harpsichord and Stephen Taylor, the superb counter-tenor in the songs on disc 9. On the whole, this is a splendid set - much wonderful music and exquisite music-making.
 
Em Marshall
 
Full Tracklist
 
CD 1 [71:52]
Music for Henry VIII:
Ave Dei patris filia [15.33]
Ave rosa sine spinis [11.14]
Alleluia: Ora pro nobi [3.57]
Euge celi porta [2.28]
Kyrie: Deus creator [2.28]
Mass: Salve Intemerata
Gloria [5.11]
Credo [6.05]
Sanctus & Benedictus [5.05]
Acinus Dei [3.56]
Chapelle du Roi/Alistair Dixon.
rec. 23–25 October 1996, St Augustine’s Church, Kilburn.
 
CD 2 [70.32]
Music at the Reformation:
Magnificat [10.06]
Nunc dimittis [3.12]
Sancte Deus [5.58]
Conditor Kyrie [2.24]
Mass for four voices
Gloria [5.17]
Credo [6.40]
Sanctus [3.00]
Benedictus [2.54]
Agnus Dei [4.14]
Remember not, O lord god [3.11]
Hear the voice and prayer [3.15]
If ye love me [2.13]
A new commandment [2.50]
Benedictus [6.25]
Te Deum for meanes [8.55]
Chapelle du Roi/Alistair Dixon.
rec. 10-11, 13 February 1997, St Augustine’s Church, Kilburn.
 
CD 3 [64:37]
Music for Queen Mary:
Beati immaculati [3.58]
Introit: Puer natus est nobis [3.06]
Kyrie: Deus Creator [2.31]
Mass: Puer natus est nobis
Gloria [7.45]
Gradual: Viderunt omnes [3.35]
Alleluia: Dies sanctificus [1.57]
Sequence: Celeste organum [3.41]
Sanctus [3.42]
Benedictus [2.41]
Agnus dei [5.55]
Communion: Viderunt omnes [0.40]
Suscipe quaeso [7.55]
Gaude gloriosa [17.11]
Chapelle du Roi/Alistair Dixon.
rec. 28–30 May 1997, St Jude’s Church, Hampstead
 
CD 4 [66:41]
Music for the Divine Office 1:
Hodie nobis caelorum [4.00]
Salvator mundi [4.28]
Quod chorus vatum [4.44]
Videte miraculum [9.11]
In pace in idipsum [6.11]
Dum transisset sabbatum [7.02]
Jesu salvator saeculi [4.00]
Sermone blando [5.31]
Jam Christus astra ascenderat [5.16]
Loquebantur variis linguis [4.15]
Magnificat [11.56]
Chapelle du Roi/Alistair Dixon.
rec. 29–31 July 1998, St Jude’s Church, Hampstead.
 
CD 5 [77:53]
Music for the Divine Office 2:
Audivi vocem de coelo [3.29]
Candidi facti sunt [4.32]
Honor virtus et potestas [5.49]
Homo quidam fecit coenam [5.05]
Te lucis ante terminum (ferial) [1.35]
Te lucis ante terminum (festal) [2.07]
Natus est nobis hodie [0.52]
Veni redemptor genitum [7.35]
Jam lucis orto sidere [4.04]
Ecce tempus idoneum [4.12]
Ex more docti mistico [7.l3]
Clarifica me pater [4.33]
Clarifica me pater [1.03]
Clarifica me pater [1.10]
Gloria tibi trinitas [1.50]
Iste confessor [5.05]
Alleluia: Per te Dei genitrix [5.01]
Felix namque [12.29]
Chapelle du Roi/Alistair Dixon
Andrew Benson-Wilson (organ).
rec. 12-14 October 1998, St Jude’s Hampstead (trs. 1-6); 23–24 May 1999, The Chapel, Knole House (trs7–18).
 
CD 6 [77:53]
Music for a Reformed Church:
Christ rising again from the dead [4.39]
Preces (1st set) [1.08]
Venite [3.28]
Te Deum [4.39]
Benedictus [3.42]
Responses and collects for Easter Matins [4.48]
Commandments [5.31]
Credo [3.40]
Offertory sentence [0.40]
Sanctus [034]
Gloria [1.47]
Preces (2nd set) [1.07]
Wherewithal shall a young man [2.16]
O do well unto thy servant [2.29]
My soul cleaveth to the dust [2.47]
Magnificat [3.10]
Nunc dimittis [1.46]
Responses and collects for Christmas Eve evensong [4.47]
O lord, give thy holy spirit [2.05]
Purge me, O lord [1.48]
Verily, verily I say unto you [1.42]
Remember not, O lord god [4.34]
O Lord, in thee is all my trust [2.42]
Out from the deep [154]
Tunes for Archbishop Parker's Psalter
Man blest no doubt [0.59]
Let god arise in majesty [0.44]
Why fun’th in fight [0.51]
O come in one to praise the Lord [1.20]
E'en like the hunted hind [0.52]
Expend, O Lord, my plaint [1.19]
Why brag'st in malice high [0.39]
God grant with grace [1.10]
Ordinal [0.42]
Chapelle du Roi/Alistair Dixon.
rec. 24-26 July 2000, St Jude’s Church, Hampstead
 
CD 7 [62:45]
Music for Queen Elizabeth:
Salvator mundi [2.19]
In manus tuas [1.51]
O nata lux de lumine [1.54]
Absterge domine [5.31]
Discomfort them O Lord [4.37]
Domine, quis habitabit [8.29]
Laudate Dominum [4.04]
Miserere nostri [2.18]
Salvator Mundi [2.21]
Mini autem nimis [2.15]
O salutaris hostia [2.38]
In ieiunio et fletu (low) [3.59]
In ieiunio et fletu (high) [3.18]
Derelinquat impius [3.49]
Spem in alium [10.03]
Chapelle du Roi/Alistair Dixon.
rec. 13-15 November 2000, St Jude’s Church, Hampstead
 
CD 8 [63:22]
The Lamentations and Contrafacta:
Lamentations of Jeremiah I [7.48]
Lamentations of Jeremiah II [12.20]
Wipe away my sins [5.17]
Forgive me, Lord, my sin [5.39]
Blessed are those that be undefiled [4.16]
Arise, O Lord, and hear [2.23]
With all our hearts [2.29]
I call and cry to thee [3.05]
O sacred and holy banquet [3.06]
When Jesus went into Simon and Pharisee’s house [2.26]
Blessed be thy name [2.21]
O Praise the Lord II [2.33]
Sing and glorify heaven’s high majesty [9.36]
Chapelle du Roi/Alistair Dixon.
rec. 24–27 September 2002, All Hallows’ Church, Gospel Oak.
 
CD 9 [75:15]
The Instrumental Music and Songs 1:
In nomine I [2.03]
In nomine II [3.32]
A solfing song [2.10]
Salvator mundi [1.58]
Fantasia [4.20]
Felix Namque II [12.10]
When shall my sorrowful sighing slack [1.40]
Like as the doleful dove [1.40]
O ye tender babes [1.32]
Purge me, O lord [1.26]
Per haec nos [1.48]
A Point [0.37]
Lesson: Two partes in one [5.24]
Remember not, O Lord God [3.19]
Per haec nos [1.19]
A Point [0.38]
Lesson: two partes in one [5.24]
Tu nimirum [2.00]
When shall my sorrowful sighing slack [4.35]
Like as the doleful dove [1.40]
O ye tender babes [1.36]
William BYRD Ye sacred muses [3.26]
Charivari Agreable (Lynda Sayce, (lute); Laurence Cummings (virginal, harpsichord); Andrew Benson-Wilson, (organ); Stephen Taylor (counter-tenor))
rec. 13-15 May 2004 at St Andrew’s Church, Toddington
 
CD 10 [26:44]
The Instrumental Music and Songs 2:
Litany [14.29]
Verset 1 [0.54]
Verset 2 [0.44]
Feljx namque [10.33]
Chapelle du Roi/Alistair Dixon
Andrew Benson-Wilson (organ).
rec. July 2000, Chapel of Knole, Sevenoaks (tr. 1). May 1999, Chapel of Knole, Sevenoaks (trs. 2-4).

 


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