This is a truly excellent set, and at a bargain price. I have loved Tallis's music for many years and have a lot of dearly loved recordings by The Tallis Scholars, Magnificat, the Hillard Ensemble and others which won't be superseded by this set, but are certainly beautifully complemented by it. The approach of Alistair Dixon and Chapelle du Roi is calm and restrained, and the music glows as a result. The singers are very good, tuning is virtually faultless and the absence or restrained use of vibrato ideal. The overall sound is very warm, by and large, emphasised by resonant acoustics in all the recording venues, and this eight-year project is a very fine achievement which does real justice to one of England's greatest composers.
The music itself is magnificent. Obviously, in any Complete Works there will be some pieces which are of less interest to individual listeners, and while I'm not over-keen to hear lengthy organ settings of Felix namque on a regular basis, there will be those who are. There is a wealth of magnificent music and, of course, there are little-recorded gems to discover among the better-known pieces. It's worth saying that Disc 9 - The Instrumental Music and Songs - was named by a reviewer on Radio 3's CD Review as an Essential Tallis disc. Quite right, too, in my view - the playing by Charivari Agréable is excellent and the counter-tenor Stephen Taylor is very good, too. The disc also includes `Ye sacred muses', Byrd's lament on Tallis's death, which is a real bonus.
Brilliant Classics make a pretty good job of the packaging. It's cardboard, but attractive and durable. All the original liner notes and texts are supplied on a CD-ROM as Adobe Acrobat files. It's good to have them, although one can't really sit down comfortably with the text in front of you as you could with a booklet. For so much superb music at such a price, though, this is a sacrifice well worth making - it's a fantastic set of wonderful music and very warmly recommended.
on 26 January 2014
My interest in the music of Tallis was reawakened when we purchased the TV series "The Tudors". These ten CDs seemed perfect and went on my Christmas 2013 wish list. I did not however imagine the pleasure they would give me. The singing is wonderfully controlled, the sound beautifully clear, the music immensely powerful and spiritual. A magnificent journey through a turbulent yet rich period of English history. Each CD (apart from the last one) is around an hour long which is perfect for listening in the evening after work. It is difficult to pick out any one CD above the others but if pushed I would probably choose number 7 "Music for Queen Elizabeth" with the jewel in the crown "Spem in alium" - waves and waves of beautiful sound, no matter how often you listen to it you always discover details you had not heard before.
This well-presented box-set is an absolute bargain for all lovers of Tudor music. Recommend it to friends who do not habitually listen to 16th century music. Many people who stumble across these gems by chance admit they soon become hooked.
on 26 July 2015
I couldn't really be more pleased with this purchase...and what a bargain additionally. Without the slightest knowledge, I have been an unknowing fan of Tallis' music for years on end. This super box set has been a revelation so far as I have already recognised so many pieces I have heard previously in various contexts.
I received this box set very recently, so I have only been through three of the discs so far. In short, I have loved all three and I have little doubt I will feel the same re the remaining discs. Just buy this set - you will not regret it. Superb bargain and highly recommended.
on 10 July 2014
I can only agree with other reviewers, just about worked through all the CDs and very pleased. I just hope people realise that Tallis wrote many more pieces than Spem in Alium, which I don't think is one of his best works anyway. Also, don't be put off by the apparent "church service" pieces, which are well worth a listen.
Sometimes with these kind of editions you might expect substandard performances and/or sound but that's certainly not the case here with the Chapelle du Roi under the direction of Alistair Dixon. Although not equal to the standard of such as the Tallis Scholars recordings of Tallis' music, it's still excellent, and you get his entire output in this ten disc set (plus an eleventh disc, a CD-ROM with the original individual disc booklet notes and sung texts as PDF files), and over the first seven discs of sacred music we get a picture of how English church music changed from Henry VIII to the Reformation, and through Queens Mary and Elizabeth.