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24 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Astonishing music, 9 Jan 2006
Kurt Messick "FrKurt Messick" (London, SW1) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Tallis: The Complete English Anthems /Tallis Scholars · Phillips (Audio CD)
--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.
--English Anthems--
There are twelve anthems here. Tallis recognised the needs of the newly Protestant clergy, who looked for intelligibility and simplicity in the worship. These anthems were in the vernacular of the people, some of the earliest liturgical anthems in English (as prior to this, the Catholic church celebrated in Latin). However, the compositions here span the time from the young King Edward's reign to the middle of Queen Elizabeth's reign, a time of great shifting of religious foundations and sensibilities.
There are some pieces here for men's voices only - four-part pieces such as 'If ye love me' and 'Here the voice and prayer' are quick famous, and very concise in scope. Other pieces are more elaborate, MATB choirs, and a few very substantial five-voice compositions, 'Christ rising' and 'Blessed are those', the later scored for a standard pre-Reformation choir of treble, mean, countertenor, tenor and bass.
The 'Tunes for Archbishop Parker' consists of eight tunes, two of which may be very familiar - the 'Fantasia on a theme of Thomas Tallis' by Ralph Vaughn Williams comes from this number, as does Tallis' classic 'Canon'.
--Liner Notes--
Being internationally acclaimed, the Tallis Scholars' CDs typically present their commentary and texts in English, French, German and Italian (together with any Latin texts); that is true of this disc. The cover art also typically represents visual arts contemporary with the compositions - here it is a piece from Hans Holbein the Younger, a portrait of Edward VI as a child, painted in 1538, during Tallis' lifetime.
--The Tallis Scholars--
The Tallis Scholars, a favourite group of mine since the first time I heard them decades ago, are a group dedicated to the performance and preservation of the best of this type of music. A choral group of exceptional ability, I have been privileged to see them many times in public, and at almost every performance, their singing seems almost like a spiritual epiphany for me, one that defies explanation in words. Directed by Peter Phillips, the group consists of a small number of male and female singers who have trained themselves well to their task.
Their recordings are of a consistent quality that deserve more than five stars; this particular disc of pieces by Thomas Tallis, the namesake of the group, deserves a place on the shelf of anyone who loves choral music, liturgical music or Gregorian chant, classical music generally, or religious music. It is remarkable, both in composition and performance. The original recording was made in 1986.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Superb Music, 31 Mar 2010
C. F. Howat "Craig" (Cotgrave Notts UK) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Tallis: The Complete English Anthems /Tallis Scholars · Phillips (Audio CD)
The Tallis Scholars bring out the great beauty and profound nature of this music. Although written at the tumultuous period of the protestant reformation, the writing imbues the music with the transcendent beauty of the medieval church that was being lost. This truly represents a last flowering of an older religion being lost and I think Tallis was expressing that to his listener. Listen to carefully to track 6 'verily, verily I say unto you'. Surely I call to follow an older Eucharist!
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