Ten English composers set the Latin text of the Lamentations of Jeremiah in the mid-16th century, in the reigns both of the Catholic Queen Mary and the Protestant Elizabeth I. Precise details are hard to establish of when works were performed, as Andrew Carwood explains in an illuminating note to this disc, but there seems little doubt that Tallis, though a Catholic, wrote his masterpiece for Elizabeth. The repeated final lines, “Jerusalem, Jerusalem, turn to the Lord your God”, unforgettable once heard, have a dark resonance here, thanks to the sonorous basses of the Cardinall’s Musick (Robert Macdonald, Simon Whiteley). The rest of this fine recording draws on music from across Tallis’s career, with English and Latin settings (Sancte Deus, Te Deum, Come, Holy Ghost and more). The singers reach the highest standards.
To mark the 500th anniversary of the birth of Tallis, here are his biggest and best church compositions, performed in its customary high style by the Oxford Camerata under Jeremy Summerly (whose Fauré Requiem remains one of Naxos's all-time bestsellers). Tallis's youthful motet Salve intemerata is among the longest single-movement works of the 16th century, but it is Spem in alium, a work of Tallis's maturity, that overshadows any other English piece of the period, including those of his great contemporary, William Byrd. Scored for 40 independent voices, it is symphonic in proportion and resplendent in this surround-sound version.
Tallis lived during a time of tremendous religious upheaval. The succession from Henry VIII to Edward VI, Edward to Mary Tudor and Mary to Elizabeth meant changes from Catholic to Protestant, and back again with Mary, before Elizabeth’s “third way” – a more accepting and moderate form of Protestantism. Tallis lived through all of this, highly respected and admired in his day for his compositions, and, remarkably enough, managed to please each monarch in turn. During his life-time he produced some glorious, inspiring, and deeply uplifting music. This 10-disc set from Brilliant Classics, featuring the Chapelle du Roi, presents the complete works, including recordings of music that have hitherto been unrecorded. How lovely to have a complete set of works.
"…This is a release that can serve as a cornerstone of any Renaissance music CD library." ~allmusicguide
Hyperion’s record of the month for July celebrates the (probable) 500th anniversary of the birth of England’s first superstar composer, Thomas Tallis, and welcomes the signing to the label of The Cardinall’s Musick and Andrew Carwood. In a fifteen-year history The Cardinall’s Musick has progressively built an enviable reputation for excellence. Some twenty recordings on the ASV Gaudeamus label have seen accolades from around the world, including a Gramophone Award and a Diapason d’Or, while in the concert hall and workshop the group has consistently displayed innovation and a freshness of approach, whether tackling contemporary works (many of them commissions) or sharing the fruits of years of research into the music of the English Renaissance.