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35 of 35 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Another gem from the Tallis Scholars, 18 April 2008
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Sid Nuncius (London) - See all my reviews
(TOP 10 REVIEWER)    (No. 1 Hall OF FAME REVIEWER)   
I have found "You can't go wrong with The Tallis Scholars" to be a pretty reliable guide over the last 30 years. This double CD is a re-issue of the best of their 3 discs of Tallis's music from the 1980s, and bears that out fully.

This is my favourite version of the great 40-part motet Spem in alium - and that's against some pretty stiff competition, too. Similarly, Gaude gloriosa is magnificently sung, and the smaller-scale works are exquisite. I intend, quite seriously, to have this version of Miserere nostri played at my funeral - it is indescribably beautiful and moving. There are also lovely versions of many of Tallis's English Anthems, including the tune from Archbishop Parker's Psalter upon which Vaughan Williams based his famous Fantasia on a Theme by Thomas Tallis. It's a gem of a double CD.

The Lamentations of Jeremiah is very well sung, but I have to say that, even as a very long-term Tallis Scholars fan, I prefer the recently reissued version by The Taverner Consort Tallis: Spem in alium Latin Church Music /Taverner Consort & Choir Parrott. Nevertheless, this set is very warmly recommended as a marvellous collection of some of the finest recordings of Tallis available, and at a bargain price. You really can't go wrong.
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39 of 44 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars If you've never heard of Thomas Tallis, then you've missed out., 24 Dec 2007
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Let's put Thomas Tallis in context. He was born a few years before Henry 8th (him of the six wives) became King. He died half way through the reign of Elizabeth 1st (her of the Spanish Armada). On this disc is the music of almost FIVE HUNDRED years ago - contemporary with "Greensleeves". This is as long BEFORE Mozart as we are AFTER.

You might be forgiven for thinking that the music of this era would be simple, unsophisticated stuff - in other words, rather like "Greensleeves" - but you are WRONG.

What you will find on this disc are choral works of astonishing complexity and masterful vision. Thomas Tallis was, without doubt, one of the towering figures of musical history. OK - the style is definitely "of its era", but what can you expect? You cannot listen to the music of almost 500 years ago and expect it to sound modern. It doesn't.

What it DOES sound, however, is breath-taking with contrapuntal harmony that bewilders the ear and mind. The piece I personally believe to be Tallis's masterwork, his motet in 40 parts "Spem in Alium", is the first track on the first disc. It weaves astonishing tonalities that have never been surpassed since.

If you buy this disc for nothing else, buy it for Spem in Alium.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Worth it for Spem in Alium alone, 24 July 2009
By 
The Five Sisters (Manchester, UK) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
This is a superb double CD set of music by Thomas Tallis. It starts with Spem in Alium which is always a treat, but many of the other pieces are equally wonderful pieces of polyphony and there is nothing that is less than pleasant. I find this music ideal to work to as it is sufficiently soothing to fade into the background when concentrating, but is full of marvels when I give it my full attention.
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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Not quite the best, 4 Mar 2011
The standout on any compilaton of Tallis choral music is "Spem In Alium", and listening to this performance some 26 years after it was recorded is instructive. On my Hi-Fi there are moments when this is almost painful to listen to, such are the effects of the distinctive acoustic of Merton College Chapel and/or the recording technique. When the soprano voices come in, there seems to be a resonance which over-emphasises their range and creates a ringing overtone. At first I thought that this was something to do with my Hi-Fi, and to be fair, not everyone notices it (my Wife thinks the recording is perfect). But I recently bought both the Magnificat recording and that by The Sixteen in order to compare, and they don't have the same problem.

Now this is a notoriously difficult piece to record, and the problem of conveying the feeling of a performance in a particular place was undoubtedly more dificult a quarter century ago. But it could be done; witness the sound on the second disc of this issue, recorded in Salle Parish Church in Norfolk. There are no unwanted resonances, the acoustic is spacious and open, the sound cooler and more analytical. So I conclude that Merton College Chapel plays too large a part in the sound of the first disc, while Salle Church is a model of discretion. Alternatively the recording engineer may have kept his mikes just too far from the singers; some older recordings made with a simple crossed pair had problems like this.

This is still a wonderful compilation, but time has passed and it's no longer the automatic choice if you want a Spem In Alium (and it is a miraculous piece of writing for voice - perhaps the most accomplished choral piece ever). I would rate the competing "Spems" as follows: in first place that by the group Magnificat; in second the recording by The Sixteen (not all Tallis, other period composers feature); in third place this version by The Tallis Scholars from the mid 1980s. If you don't fancy any of these there are another twenty or so more or less available.

But this compilation is more than just the "Spem" and, particularly for the second disc, it's still well worth having.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Tudor choral music, 26 Sep 2013
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I have always loved this type of music but this exceded all expectations, the only word is glorious. so happy I found it
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars LOVELY,LOVELY MUSIC., 8 Sep 2013
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SIT DOWN AND RELAX,OR JUST HAVE IT PLAYING AS BACKGROUND MUSIC.A TERRIFIC "CD"AND YOU ONLY PAY PEANUTS FOR IT.A MUST BUY FOR MUSIC LOVERS....X
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5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars, 12 July 2014
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Magical.
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5.0 out of 5 stars GORGEOUS, 22 Jun 2014
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just what is needed to calm the nerves anytime, anywhere, beautifully sung, leaving the mind clear and restored - highly recommended
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5.0 out of 5 stars Sublime perfection, 13 Jun 2014
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Beautifully sung, get some soul into your life with this sublime collection of the genius of Tallis and his music.
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5.0 out of 5 stars I like it, 31 Mar 2014
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It does what it says on the tin, and very well at that. Words are reasonably clear and the polyphony is wonderful.
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