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4.2 out of 5 stars19
4.2 out of 5 stars
Format: Audio CD|Change
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on 10 April 2002
I'm prepared to argue with anyone that these are the most beautiful pieces of music from their era. This may have something to do with their unique position in the history of musical development - midway between the traditional plainsong and the more modern renaissance styles, the wedding of the two styles creates something greater than each.
"Spem in Alium" is an utter delight, and the rest of the collection matches it in musical quality. However, and it's a big however, the quality of performance does not universally match up to the beauty of the music being performed. In particular, I found myself hearing the not-so- occasional wrong note being played by the organist every now and then. Some may consider that this adds to the magic of the work, "spontaneity" and all that, but I just found it grated.
Having said that, the singing brings out all the beauty and depth of the works, whose intensity borders on the hynotic on occasion.
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on 7 August 2001
This double CD contains some of the greatest English sacred works to ever be written, coupled with the top choir in Britain to perform them.
I have two personal favorites in the music of Tallis and here both are included. The glorious 'Spem in Alium' is presented by the choir of King's College, Cambridge under Willcocks at maestosic tempo and to great effect, quite stunning.
My second favorite is 'O Nata Lux de Lumine'. This is a beautiful little piece and in, its own way, as profound as 'Spem in Alium'.
Only one warning, some of the tracks are taken from older recordings, and thus the quality is very slightly lower, but I would not really have realised this without examination of the CD cover.
Decca have included a booklet containing the texts of the pieces, making them all the more meaningful.
A really superb CD, a must for lovers of Tallis.
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HALL OF FAMEon 20 December 2005
--Thomas Tallis-
Thomas Tallis, born in 1505, was one of the outstanding liturgical composers of his day, being the acknowledged master of the composers of England from the time of Queen Mary's reign forward. He was a composer and Gentleman of the Chapel Royal during the reigns of Henry VIII, Edward VI, Mary, and Elizabeth, and worked closely with many other composers, most particularly William Byrd. He was an organist in addition to composer. He died in 1585, having navigated his way through the tumultuous catholic/protestant difficulties of the church which provided his livelihood and creative outlet.
--Spem in alium--
This piece, Spem in alium numquam habui (I have no faith in any other [than God]), is Tallis' most famous piece. It is a 40-part motet, set up for eight five-part choirs. It is a masterpiece. Tallis blended the chordal with the polyphonic here, to great effect. The number of voices makes for interesting effects, particularly when done in cathedral settings. Several stories have appeared about why this work was composed, but in the end, it remains unknown.
--Lamentations of Jeremiah--
This is actually two motets, most likely not composed for church use. Some have interpreted as a lamentation on the Tudor suppression of the Catholic faith, which might have made the Lamentations more a composition for private rather than public performance at the time. It has no particular setting for liturgy, even when the Lamentations might be called for (such as at Tenebrae services).
--Other music--
Other pieces included on this disc include Tallis' Videte miraculum, Dum transisset sabbatum, Honor virtus et potestas, and Loquebantur variis linguis. These responsories are among Tallis' works that might have been done during the reign of Mary, when Roman Catholics were once again in power and encouraged.
--Liner Notes--
The notes are very basic for this disc - there is a brief essay on Tallis, followed by the words of the pieces both in Latin and in English translation. There are pictures of the men and boys choir of King's College, Cambridge, as well as a photograph of Stephen Cleobury, but no biographical or historical description of the group. There is a woodcut reproduced of Thomas Tallis.
--King's College Choir--
This world-famous choir is based at the chapel of King's College, and consists of choral scholars, male students and chorister boys from the King's College School located not far away. The choir sings a regular rota of services in the chapel, and performs a concert and recording schedule in addition to this (and rehearsals!). They are perhaps best known for their annual broadcast of Lessons and Carols at holiday time.
This is a remarkable piece of music, well performed.
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on 22 August 2008
This double CD is a must for all Tallis enthusiasts and sacred music lovers generally.

The quality of the singing is pure, spiritual and simply beautiful. Many of the pieces have a truly hypnotic feel to them which creates a lovely inner calm and feeling of peacefulness. Marvellous when de-stressing and chilling is needed.
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on 18 January 2003
The performance of Spem in Alium is the best, not perhaps for its perfection, but for its imperfections. It results in an intimacy seldom achieved in any recording, and a feeling that you are there and imersed in the performance. I have listened to countless other performances that are perhaps technically better but nothing compares to this.
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on 15 February 2012
Sir David Willcocks moulds and shapes sound into something way more beautiful than the sum of its parts . Incredible that I could have gone so long without this cd in my collection .
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on 27 January 2013
It's a delicious pleasure to listen to this rendition of Tallis' works, particularly the Spem in Alium. A bonus with two CD's.
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on 22 May 2015
Classic recordings of this most spiritual of composers,wonderful sonorities in his Spem in Alium
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on 21 April 2015
Incredible value foe money and wonderful music as well.
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on 1 March 2014
Cant stop listening to this. There is a purity to the recording which, on the right system is quite astounding. Tallis is of course always a sublime sound, but this recording brings things to greater heights.
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