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74 of 74 people found the following review helpful
on 19 August 2005
I am not usually one to write reviews, but I noticed that this excellent CD has nothing recommending it to potential buyers, so thought I had better write something. Here goes...
Right, this 2 CD virgin Veritas issue contains arguably Tallis' finest works. The first CD tracks 1-9 is responsories, with plainchant sung by male voices and then the choir responding. The quality of the plainsong is usually very good, with some excellent phrasing (like the gloria in 'Videte Miraculum'), and some more mediocre, but still retaining interest. The full choir sections, though, are really beautiful, with enough attention to Tallis' gorgeous phrasing (but not too much, still preserving momentum. The repeated sections are varied by altering the tempi and dynamics and this works very well.
The famous Spem In Alium isn't the finest I've heard, (the finest perhaps being by the Tallis Scholars on Phillips), but certainly provides stiff competition. Perhaps a little more variation, light and dark, individual phrasing of the many different parts would help. The sound quality certainly doesn't hold it back though - sound quality is very good throughout, with pleasing resonance, clarity and warmth. I could find no intrusive coughs as there are on some of my other recordings.
The second CD is of motets, containing Tallis' msot famous, such as 'Salvator Mundi', as well as lesser known motets, all taken from the Cantiones Sacrae. All are excellent, especially the 18-minute Gaude Gloriosa Dei Mater, which seems to be a continual arc of development and progress from beginning to end, perfectly architectured.
Tuning is faultless throughout, at least to these ears. The balance is good, though perhaps sometimes the outer parts dominate the inner.
At this price, basically, it's a steal - over two hours of wonderful choral music with that beautiful, graceful and serene atmosphere that only Tallis can create, with his best and most famous works - for 8 quid. That makes this an essential purchase, one I would not like to be without.
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47 of 47 people found the following review helpful
This is a fabulous set. It contains most of Tallis's most beautiful music, all gloriously sung. The large scale Spem in alium and Gaude gloriosa Dei Mater are both overwhelming in their skill, sensitivity and grandeur, with the delicate passages and great sonorities both beautifully expressed, and the smaller, more intimate works are generally exquisitely done. For me, the real highlight is The Lamentations Of Jeremiah. Of all the excellent recordings which exist, including the haunting plangency of The Hilliard Ensemble and the perfect brilliance of The Tallis Scholars, this is my favourite. It laments without being oppressive, and Parrott's choice of lower pitch means that the sound is rich and resonant, with the basses descending to a positively spine-tingling depth at "Ierusalem, Ierusalem" in the First Set.
With the excellent Andrew Parrott directing and the Taverner Consort littered with what have become star names like Emily van Evera, Caroline Trevor, John Mark Ainsley and Rogers Covey-Crump (to name but a few) one would expect something really special and this set doesn't disappoint in any way. As an introduction to Tallis you couldn't do better, I think, and for the seasoned Tallis listener it is a treat of impeccable singing, beautiful interpretation and wonderful, resonant sound.
This is a simply brilliant re-issue, and at this price an unmissable bargain. It is a treasured gem of my collection, and I can recommend it wholeheartedly.
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
on 1 November 2007
This is a magnificent collection of Tallis' works. It also includes of course the magical "Spem in Allium" and one of my favorites "Loquebantur Variis Linguis".

The collection is unbelievable value and even if you haven't heard Tallis before, this is a CD set you can start you collection with!
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on 4 August 2011
The recording standard for the typical early music CDs is to record a little further away for a more homogenous sound.

BUT NOT THIS recording. This recording gives you never-heard-before definition of those amazing English voices as if they were right in front of you - it is larger than life. To add to this, is the brilliant recording engineering to capture and enhance that part of the voice that is truly remarkable.

For me, this is, currently, the staple CD for polyphony.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 6 May 2010
This is the best Tallis sampler that's available IMO. Having nearly all responsories on the first disc can make the plainsong a bit repetetive if you're primarily interested in the polyphony. It's well worth persevering with though. The second disc has no such issues as there's only one reponsory on it. This collection contains my favourite versions of many of the tracks including Spem in Alium, In Jejunio et Fletu, Suspice Quaeso, and Gaude Gloriosa. It runs very close on others too(such as the Lamentations where only the Magnificat recording can compare). Loquebantur variis lingius is better heard in slightly higher tempo renditions IMHO, other than that this recording is hard to beat. If you want an introduction to Tallis, and equally if you intend to own only one collection of his music, then this is the one to get.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 26 January 2014
All the performances are first rate, but the title track Spem in alium is truly outstanding. Often, in other recordings, its many voices meld into mud and much of the dynamism of the music is lost. Of the many versions I've heard, only the Tallis Scholars come close.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 10 January 2013
Is it Acceptable to keep going backwards in musical time as I get older? I got to Tallis via Pergolesi, Monteverdi and Nannone. I'm an atheist but I love this music. Is that OK?
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on 16 March 2008
As a fervent atheist, I was move greatly by the sheer depth of devotion reflected in this music. A conversation of a profound nature is started across the short chasm of four and a half centuries.
I was exposed to later choral music as a schoolboy (particularly Byrd- Tallis' protege) but never felt so overwelmed.
Other recordings may be technically superior, but this is great value.
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on 14 November 2013
Its a shame amazon insist on so 20 words minimum. this doesn't need any. Its sublime from beginning to end. I stumbled upon this while listening to brother ali. I listen to this when cycling long distance. Its enhances the experience greatly!
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on 1 September 2010
i brought a double cd of thomas tallis called Spem in Alium and i really believe its the the best cd i have ever brought i think ive played it everyday since sometimes more if you like Latin Church Music then this is a must buy
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