After the enormous success last year of their recording of 'Bach Motets', the Hilliard Ensemble turn their attention to music of the English Renaissance and specifically, works by three 16th century composers, Tallis, Tye and Sheppard. While Christopher Tye might be branded one of the lesser-known figures of the English Renaissance, and John Sheppard perhaps the more esoteric, Thomas Tallis stands as the most important and accomplished musician of the Tudor period. All three, however, were masters of polyphony, associated with the Chapel Royal.
The music here is not a sampling of the (much-recorded) music for the new Prayer Book but a survey of the earliest examples of the impact of reform on musical composition, namely from the last decades of Henry VIII's reign. The works of Tallis, Tye and Sheppard are alternated and contrasted throughout this beautifully constructed recital, recorded, like many of the Hilliard Ensemble's CDs, in the splendid, crystal-clear acoustics of the Sankt Gerold monastery in the Austrian Alps. Tallis has long been an inspirational figure for the Hilliards, who had a huge success with their recording of his 'Lamentations of Jeremiah' in 1986 - one of their first ECM New Series discs - and also brought his music into their collaboration with Jan Garbarek on 'Mnemosyne'.
David James - (countertenor), Rogers Covey-Crump - (tenor), Steven Harrold - (tenor), Gordon Jones - (baritone), Robert Macdonald - (bass)
(4 stars) Spotless a capella work from this superb ensemble. Close recording brings out the mesmerising austerity...music to meditate by. -- Classic FM Magazine, (Emma Baker), August 2008
(5 stars) These well nigh impeccable performances, beautifully tuned as always with the Hilliards, are complemented by marvellous sound. -- Goldberg, (Brian Robins), August 2008
Evokes gorgeous sonic landscapes...such delicate complexity in their tones, that this really is beauty of a rarefied order...listen and luxuriate. -- Gramophone (Editor's Choice), (James Inverne), October 2008
If only all history lessons were delivered as beautifully as this one...beautifully blended performances...extremely impressive work. An outstanding release. -- Gramophone, (Ivan Moody), October 2008
The Hilliards present it with an unpretentious confidence that enables one to focus entirely on the music, which it thoroughly deserves. -- Early Music Review, (Clifford Bartlett), June 2008
Yet another magnificent release from a fine vocal outfit whose diversity of repertoire and sheer longevity never cease to amaze. -- International Record Review, (Robert Levett), July/August 2008