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Customer reviews

4.8 out of 5 stars
4.8 out of 5 stars
Format: Audio CD|Change
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on 11 May 2004
A superb disc - ravishing performances and a wonderfully natural recording. The Spem In Alium was, like the Sixteen version, recorded in the round. I had it on redbook HDCD stereo and this is one of only two discs I've replaced with the same performance on SACD, it's that good. By the way, don't worry about repertoire repetition with the Sixteen disc, - the only item in common is the Spem, which lasts about 9 minutes, and each disc gives you another hour's worth of unduplicated repertoire in addition. Everything on this new SACD is by Tallis, whereas the sixteen disc features a number of other composers. Both discs are absolute essentials (for me anyway)
The surround mix is excellent, - not as 360 degree as the Sixteen on Coro but that latter performance, whilst excellent is a little artificial and glassy compared to the natural and intense sound of this Magnificat disc. Judging by the rear illustration, the Magnificat disc seems to have been recorded with just two high mounted mikes and the result is both thrilling and "real". The acoustic throughout is marvellous and the voices have a beautifully grainy yet vivid quality.
As for the performances, that of the Spem In Alium is unmatched even by the Tallis Scholars and the Sixteen (and that's the case even though all three discs feature some singers in common). This new one has an enraptured ardour about it which is really special, - you may forget to breath at times, it's that beautiful. All the performances, though, are wonderful, including the four part mass I'd never heard before, - a treasure of the Elizabethan age.
The artistic achievement is matched by one of the best recordings I've ever heard. I can't praise this disc highly enough. Five stars doesn't do it justice.
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on 15 January 2005
Until now my preference for prformance of the Spem in alium work was by the Tallis Scholars.Magnificat however improves on this , both with the clarity of the singing, the near perfect acoustic and the sublime recording. The ethereal beauty of this Renaissance masterpiece washes through and around one almost as if it were purging the soul . Magnicat demonstrate in the Spem in alium a more profound understanding and rendering of the piece over Peter Phillips and his Tallis Scholars;it would be interesting if a newer reading and recording of the work by the Scholars could surpass this one. The articulation of the latin words constucts a marvellous aural architecture and shows how beautiful and erudite Tallis's music is. BBC's 'building a library' on CD Review chose the Magnicat's version of the Lamentations over all of the selected competition in the full price category.Thoroughly recommended even it is just to use as a show disc for your hi-fi.It is also a SACD hybrid as well!
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on 9 September 2012
Would-be purchasers should be aware that this Amazon information is incorrect: 'Please note: requires SACD compatible hardware' When I 'phoned Amazon for further guidance I was given the same spiel. I have the product in front of me and it states: ' Hybrid Multichannel. Plays on all SACD and CD Players' It plays equally well on my decades old, cheap, 'Sony CD Radio Cassette Corder'(sic) as on my small Denon bookshelf Hi-Fi system. I have other SACD Hybrid discs and, like this one, none have been damaged or otherwise impaired by playing them on my equipment. And neither has my equipment been damaged.

Regarding the previous reviews of this item, I have little to add to the overwhelmingly favourable tenor of them. The words 'Ethereal', 'beautiful', harmonious', 'spiritual' come to mind.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 21 August 2014
At the heart of this glorious album is Tallis’ spectacular Spem in Alium composed for 40 voices. Magnificat give a rich performance of this piece which has to be ten of the most stunning minutes in English music.

Surrounding this are some simpler, but equally beautiful, pieces from the spine-tingling (sorry for the cliché but it’s true in this case) O Salutaris Hostia to the dolorous Lamentations, and beautiful Miserere Nostri.

Tallis composed under four Tudor monarchs (Henry VIII to Elizabeth) and thus negotiated the vexed conditions of the Reformation which impacted on music as much as visual culture and literature.

I’m no musical expert, but this is a beautifully expressive introduction to Tallis
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on 15 March 2005
I came late to an appreciation of choral works, and am not always easy on them. However, this album is spectacular, not least Tallis' signature work 'Spem in Alium' which is truly astounding. Spem in Alium is a crucible for choirs that attempt it... like genius and insanity, there is a fine line between performing it well and performing it badly. It can so easily fall into a cacophony of chaos, but in this performance there is just sheer clarity of diction, depth, breadth and transcendent beauty, which is emphasised further if you play it on a surround system. As another reviewer pointed out there is nothing artificial in the multi-channel rendering. I found it so incredible that I've co-erced(!) several friends to just listen to the gathering harmonies and appreciate the music. All the pieces on this disk are beautifully performed, and as such it's a great tribute to early English Church music, but this also has to be the best performance of Spem in Alium that I have had the joy to hear. Highly recommended.
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on 8 February 2008
This is a remarkable piece of music by any measure and should be in everyone's classical collection even if you are not normally a fan of vocal or religious music. You'll see many people lavish superlatives on this piece of music - and with absolute justification. In my view no superlative would be over-the-top.

For my part, I could say that it is sublime, superb, even peerless. But actually, I think it is other-worldly. It is quite simply staggering, for several reasons...
1) The ambition of Spem in alium is audacious. Composed circa 1570, written for 40 voices arranged in 8 independent choirs of 5 voices, each voice having a separate part, but all adhering to an overarching sense of cohesion. It is amazingly complex, mesmerisingly beautiful and, unsurprisingly, nothing like it was attempted for a century or two later.
2) Alas due to the complexity of the piece and the inordinate demands that its performance places upon any choir, very few recordings if any manage to convey this piece with sufficient clarity and control. In fact, there are only two recordings of Spem in alium that I can happily listen to. One is performed by the Tallis Scholars. The other is this recording performed by the Magnificat choir. And that said, I consider this particular performance by the Magnificat to be in a league of its own - no disrespect to the Tallis Scholars - anything but.
3) Despite Thomas Tallis (together with his oft partnered sidekick William Byrd) being a true superstar celebrity of his era, the words of Spem in alium sing of humility in the face of fellow man and God...
I have never put my hope in any other but in you
God of Israel
who will be angry
and yet become again gracious
and who forgives all the sins of suffering man
Lord God
Creator of Heaven and Earth
look upon our lowliness

And this from a composer who survived countless successions of monarchs of alternating protestant and catholic persuasion - and and was indeed sponsored and celebrated by each and all.

This piece of music, performed by this choir, just might provide a glimpse into the mind of God. I have heard some say this of the of the beauty of orchids. Perhaps this is the musical equivalent?

If someone said I had to dispose of 90% of my CD collection, this is one of the CDs that would be on my "must keep at all costs" list. It is very special and unique indeed.

To merely recommend it strongly would be an insult - I cannot even attempt to recommend it highly enough. It is quite literally other-worldly.

PS: Please vote for my review if you found it helpful. :-)
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I came late to this recording; I already had at least one version of all the works on this disc which I loved, and wasn't convinced I needed yet another. I was wrong. This is a really exceptional disc on which every work is at least as good as the best I had, and in some cases better.

The music itself is wonderful. Tallis was a great composer and these are some of his loveliest works. There is a very fine range, too, from the overwhelmingly mighty 40-voice Spem in alium to the intimate Mass for Four Voices and Magnificat handle them all excellently.

Philip Cave is a fine tenor in his own right who has sung regularly with the Tallis Scholars for many years, and here he shows that he also a very good director indeed. He has assembled a terrific cast of singers, many of whom have also sung with the Tallis Scholars and other world-class ensembles, and the list includes stars like James Bowman, Sally Dunkley, Andrew Carwood and many others. They produce a truly wonderful sound together: rich and resonant with an exemplary balance and blend and exceptional clarity of individual lines. The sense of the text is very well conveyed, with real passion, delicacy or tranquillity as appropriate.

Spem in alium is exceptionally good: controlled and well paced with real depth of feeling and building to a level of truly spine-tingling power. It is the best version I know - and I'm comparing it with wonderful performances by the Taverner Consort, the Tallis Scholars and others. The Lamentations of Jeremiah is also as good as any I've heard: it laments beautifully without ever being oppressive and the lower pitch chosen by Cave gives really wonderful depth to the basses. The other major work on the disc is the Mass for Four Voices which I have loved ever since I first heard the Hilliard ensemble sing it over 20 years ago, and I never thought I'd hear a performance to match theirs. This one does. With four singers only - one to a part - they produce just the right level of spare beauty and real feeling which drew me in and transfixed me completely. It's wonderful.

I know this review is probably already too long, but I must mention the brief, exquisite Miserere, which is possibly my favourite two-and-a-half minutes of music anywhere. This is perfect: delicate with just the right level of sonority, and soaring to a finish which genuinely brings tears to my eyes each time. The disc is worth buying for this alone, in my view.

Excellent recorded sound, good, intelligent notes and full texts and translations make this an all round gem. Recommended in the strongest terms.
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on 1 August 2013
I echo the 5 star reviews below. This is simply the most beautiful Tallis recording I have ever come across. Spem in Alium and Miserere are unrivalled - even in comparison with the superb Tallis Scholars. I could listen to this recording over and over again with getting bored.
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on 19 February 2013
A beautiful marvelous wonderful piece of music buy listen love this from an ex metal head who is expanding his taste
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on 7 September 2013
I listen to this CD most days, it's simply beautiful, buy it and you won't be disappointed, well worth the money
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