Most helpful positive review
74 of 74 people found the following review helpful
Most highly recommended
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.