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Tallis - Spem in Alium
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49 of 51 people found the following review helpful
on 13 May 2004
For most people, the star attraction of the disc will be Tallis' Spem in Alium. My favourites to date have been the impeccable but still powerful Tallis Scholars’ version on Gimmel (beautifully recorded) and, more recently, a magnificent, heart-stoppingly beautiful rendition by Magnificat on Linn (SACD and HDCD), also splendidly recorded. This new version has an edge on redbooks in that it is recorded in the round and in surround, in a beautifully balanced, hugely impressive MC recording. To my mind, the performance doesn't quite match the purity of the Tallis Scholars or the powerful beauty of Magnificat, but its pretty damned close, and the sound is a winner. I wouldn’t replace the Magnificat recording for anything, but this will stand alongside it.
For me, the stand out track apart from "Spem" was Thomas Tomkin's disciplined but gravely moving elegy for Prince Henry (son of James I) "Know you not" but the whole disc is musically strong. For this track and most of the rest of the pieces, the rear speakers largely carry just ambient information, which is both quite natural and appropriate.
My only quibble with the sound is that, compared to the Linn disc, it sounds a little artificial and glassy. But otherwise, an excellent disc.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
This is a very good disc of English Tudor works. If you are just looking for a recording of Tallis's Spem in alium then I think there are better ones available, but this one isn't bad at all and the other works here make this a very enjoyable programme.

Spem in alium is a mighty 40-part work which has been much-recorded over the years. Here, Harry Christophers has gathered a fine cast of singers including many of the great stalwarts of The Tallis Scholars and The Cardinall's Musick, and they make a wonderful sound together. However, I do think this performance lacks the spiritual depth and intensity of some others like Magnificat. It's taken at a perfectly sensible speed but I sometimes get the sense of being a little rushed: about 7' 15" in, or example, there is a quite wonderful pause after the words "creator caeli et terrae" when the world seems to hold its breath before the harmony changes completely with "respice humilitatem nostrum." Here, it's rather skated over and, for me, a profound moment is missed. There are other small things which mean that this version just doesn't quite do it for me, but others have obviously responded better to it.

I am very glad to have the other works on the disc, which are generally very well sung and played, and form a pleasing contrast to Spem in alium while being no less lovely. There are some balance problems occasionally between solo voices and instruments, but overall they are well recorded and exceptionally well performed.

The best recording of Spem in alium I know is by Magnificat and I would very warmly recommend their superb disc of Tallis Thomas Tallis: Spem in alium. However, if you'd like to hear a greater diversity of Tudor music this is very good and the Spem here is perfectly good, so I can recommend this one, too.
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I wanted a recording of "Spem in Allium" by Thomas Tallis and browsed reviews before deciding on the version by The Sixteen. I was not disappointed. They make a glorious sound .
The CD is called "Music For Monarchs and Magnates" and as well as "Spem in Allium" there are other lovely pieces, by Tallis, Orlando Gibbons, William Byrd and Thomas Tomkins, some well known but some rearranged specially for this CD. They come from a turbulent time in England's religious history and the mood is sometimes of thanksgiving, sometimes of mourning. Some of the works are in English, some in Latin but the helpful notes give translations as well as background.
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I bought this yesterday on the strength of reviews here and because I need to study Spem in alium for my music degree. I find the recording of this particular piece absolutely unlistenable to - it is shrill, congested sounding and thin, and does the music a disservice. I am listening in stereo and not surround sound which may be why - and the other pieces on the CD do sound much better and include some lovely music. I have thousands of CDs and several sets of good Hi Fi equipment - the first track sounds similar on all of them. Very disappointed indeed and if you want Spem in alium then I suggest the recording with the Tallis Scholars.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 5 April 2014
This CD is beautiful and is a joy to listen to over and over again. Fabulous music performed by superb musicians.
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on 27 August 2012
I did not know much about Tudor music before. "Spem in alium" had been cited as an exceptional piece of choral music and so I chose what I hoped would be a good performance by the Sixteen. Since then I have had a few months of listening and I have not been disappointed. "Spem in Alium" is wonderful, unearthly celestial music. I would thoroughly recommend it.
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on 17 November 2013
If you like polyphony.

Beautifully recorded by The Sixteen, who can always be relied upon to do a really professional job of rendering early music.
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5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
This is a splendid recording by the Sixteen - raises the hairs on the neck -- I'm having it at my funeral!
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on 9 January 2013
This was recommended by a friend and I was not disappointed. Wonderful music, a very real pleasure to listen to.
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5 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on 2 September 2009
Surely this is indeed the music of Heaven! Just a few bars in and the stresses and worries of the day are soothed away. The ultimate relaxation experience.
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