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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 94268 [10 CDs: 657:34]

Experience Classicsonline


This Brilliant box is licensed from Signum’s multi-volume collection of Thomas Tallis’s music. It’s presented in ten CDs with a further CD-ROM containing full booklet notes and sung texts. If it all seems rather familiar, then it is. Not only might you have come across those individual Signum releases but you may indeed have come across the set’s previous incarnation on Brilliant 93612 (see review). Nothing at all seems to have changed except the box cover picture and the changed catalogue number. As a brief expansion of the above, I should note in addition that Signum also licensed some of these performances to Regis, on which label they appeared. So, a certain amount of thrust and counter-thrust has been going on with these performances.
 
Perhaps, by way of explanation, one should note their excellence. Sometimes when discs are recycled in this way - I remember a particularly badly recorded concerto example not long ago - it’s because labels want to squeeze the pips. Here, however, it’s the almost complete nature of the undertaking, allied to the consistently elevated nature of the performances that makes reissue in this way so valuable a prospect. Whilst, clearly - and it could hardly be expected otherwise - not every performance represents the Chapelle du Roi under Alistair Dixon at its absolute best, and whilst not every performance is thus a front-runner, most are excellent, a high percentage are outstanding, and it’s clear that this is the most important single Tallis box currently available. 

Each disc is devoted to a particular aspect of Tallis’ chronology. The first volume, for example, is devoted to his music for Henry VIII and includes the beautiful Ave rosa sine spinis. This disc establishes the fine blending the choir achieves, its excellent intonation and its rhythmic assurance. It makes a warm sound, very communicative, but not overtly expressive, or at least as expressive as some on disc. It’s not always a simple matter to stress but not overplay the dissonances of the Magnificat or the poignant close of the Nunc dimittis in volume 2, devoted to music in the Reformation. To If ye love me they bring devotional refinement, and to Remember not, O Lord God, they bring a darker corporate tone.
 
The Music for Queen Mary disc contains much that is austere. The plainchant of the Mass Puer natus est nobis is certainly reserved music but it gradually floods with light in the Sanctus, and resolves with the consoling Agnus Dei. There are two discs devoted to Music for the Divine Office, written for daily services that reveal his apposite word setting. Music for a Reformed Church is disc six and consists of an extensive sequence of small-scale pieces, not all of them designed strictly for liturgical use, Compact and sturdy they represent a rather more utilitarian side of Talli’s oeuvre. The disc also includes a sequence of pieces for Archbishop Parker’s Psalter.  Why fum’th in fight is, famously, the tune Vaughan Williams took for his Tallis Fantasia but Expend, O Lord, my plaint is also deeply expressive.
 
Music for Queen Elizabeth is the seventh volume. This contains certainly his most celebrated work, Spem in alium, but also a slew of pieces almost as good, and just as distinctive. Spem in alium’s contrafacta - same tune, different words - can be found in volume 8 as the English language Sing and Glorify Heaven’s High Majesty. The Chapelle du Roi sings the famous version with great commitment and untiring skill. It has serenity and power without loss of detail - neither too muddied not too clinical, in fact. It’s very different from many of the lighter, more clarity-conscious accounts of the last twenty years, and one of the most outstanding performances of the piece in the digital era.
 
The Lamentations are housed in volume eight. Here the Tallis Scholars are just a touch more generous in their phrasing but the Chapelle singers don’t lag much behind much. Volumes nine and tem are given over to the composer’s instrumental music and his songs. Also included is William Byrd’s highly moving envoi to his fellow composer Tallis. The last disc, which features organist Andrew Benson-Wilson is only 26 minutes long but nevertheless offers completist virtues via the Litany, Versets I andII and Felix namque.
 
For all the above reasons then, this is, as I suggested earlier, the single most important Tallis set now available.
 
Jonathan Woolf

see review by Em Marshall-Luck of previous Brilliant Classics release
 
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 (1stset) [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 Agréable (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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