The Tallis Scholars, formed in 1973 by director Peter Phillips, are specialists in Renaissance polyphony and in particular the works of Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina. They are today considered one of the leading exponents of sacred polyphonic singing.
This double CD released in 2005 is beautifully illustrated (front cover, booklet cover and on the front of each CD themselves) with reproductions of Michelangelo's paintings of five sybils (prophetess) as seen in the Sistine chapel.
The recordings, from various dates in the 1980's and 1990's, are of equal match to the artwork. The most popular of the works `Missa Papae Marcelli' is the landmark 1980 recording from Merton College Chapel, Oxford and still remains, for many, the finest version in existence.
Three other popular masses are included, the 1986 recording also from Merton College Chapel of `Missa Brevis', and 1989 recordings from the Church of St Peter and St Paul in Salle, Norfolk of the `Missa Assumpta est Maria in caelum' and `Missa Sicut lilium inter spinas'.
The 24 page booklet provides a short narration of the works by Peter Phillips, a biography of the Tallis Scholars and a translation into English of all the libretti to the works.
In my view this is essential listening and a fine example of some of the best music from the Renaissance era.
You can hear why Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina is regarded by many as the greatest exponent of Renaissance polyphony, especially when you listen to this recording by the incomparable Tallis Scholars who seem physically incapable of delivering anything less than perfect.
Two discs of truly outstanding performances which seem to go on forever, and an unmissable bargain. Everybody rush forth and demand a copy forthwith.