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Track :
Track Time Price
1 Play

Hark, all ye lovely saints - Weelkes

3:46 $1.59
2 Play

Hark! Alleluia - Morley

1:52 $1.59
3 Play

Phyllis, I fain would die now - Morley

5:31 $3.18
4 Play

Cruel Madame - Vautor

4:24 $1.59
5 Play

Ah dear heart - Gibbons

2:09 $1.59
6 Play

Draw on sweet night - Wilbye

5:49 $3.18
7 Play

All creatures now - Bennet

2:25 $1.59
8 Play

Sleep, fleshly birth - Ramsey

6:18 $3.18
9 Play

Carters, now cast down - Farnaby

1:54 $1.59
10 Play

Woe is me (Secular version) - Tomkins

4:07 $1.59
11 Play

Though Amaryllis dance - Byrd

4:53 $1.59
12 Play

The silver swan - Gibbons

1:50 $1.59
13 Play

When David Heard - Tomkins

4:26 $1.59
14 Play

Then David mourned - Tomkins

2:59 $1.59
15 Play

Almighty God, the fountain of all wisdom - Tomkins

5:36 $3.18
16 Play

Woe is me (Sacred version) - Tomkins

4:13 $1.59
17 Play

Be strong and of a good courage - Tomkins

2:34 $1.59
18 Play

O sing unto the Lord a new song - Tomkins

3:43 $1.59
19 Play

O God, the proud are risen against me - Tomkins

4:14 $1.59
Total Playing Time  72:50 Purchase all tracks  $6.99

English Madrigals (25th Anniversary Edition)

The Tallis Scholars

GIMSE 403

Total Playing Time 72:50

This unique album, the only recording by The Tallis Scholars of English Madrigals and their first-ever digital recording, was made in the Great Hall at Deene Park, Northamptonshire, on April 23rd, 24th and 25th, 1982. There are also 7 bonus tracks featuring English Anthems by Thomas Tomkins recorded in Salle Church, Norfolk, on July 18th, 19th and 20th, 1988.

"Originally released on the Classic for Pleasure label, the issuing of this CD will mark the first time these tracks have been commercially available for over 20 years. The twelve madrigals presented here were deliberately chosen to show off the scope of the best English madrigal writing around the year 1600. Do I regret not having done more of this repertoire in the intervening years? I would, if there hadn't been so much first-rate sacred music to explore." Peter Phillips


In 1980 The Tallis Scholars made a record of music by Allegri, Palestrina and William Mundy for the black-vinyl budget label Classics for Pleasure. It sold so well that we were asked to make a follow-up, with the stipulation that the repertoire should be as popular as on the first disc. This didn't give me much scope within what was known of sacred polyphony in those days so that, out of a number of suggestions, it was finally decided to record secular music. The madrigals which follow were duly recorded in the Great Hall of Deene Park, Northamptonshire, in April 1982. This was the first and only time we have ever recorded such repertoire; and the issuing of this CD will mark the first time these tracks have been commercially available for over twenty years.

When we made this recording no one was in any doubt as to the quality of the music. My subsequent hesitations in programming secular items in concert have been entirely to do with the sound-world which they require: one voice to a part with the interpretative attention focused on the words and not in the first instance on the group sound, which is what The Tallis Scholars have subsequently specialized in. For this recording we placed the singers in a large room which had little reverberance, where they could hear each other clearly and so react to the way each was using the words to expressive ends, yet the singers in question were experienced in choral work and knew instinctively how to fit their voices into a group. The result, as was said at the time of its release, was a recording which tried to bridge the gap between vocal ensembles which specialized in madrigal singing and a fully choral approach. I am struck now by how legitimate that approach was. Obviously it is most successful in items which have a quasi-sacred message, like Morley's Hark! Alleluia or Tomkins' Woe is me (which interestingly we recorded some years later as a sacred piece and include here in the bonus tracks that follow the madrigals); but it works as well in the lighter numbers, like Bennet's All creatures now. Do I regret not having done more of this repertoire in the intervening years? I would, if there hadn't been so much first-rate sacred music to explore.

The twelve madrigals presented here were deliberately chosen to show off the scope of the best English madrigal-writing around the year 1600. My own penchant was for the more contemplative items, with their longer lines and more plangent part-writing: Wilbye's Draw on sweet night; Gibbons's Ah dear heart and The silver swan; Ramsey's Sleep, fleshly birth; and the Tomkins mentioned above. At the other end of the spectrum are the so-called balletts and canzonets, sometimes sporting characteristic ‘fa la las': Weelkes's Hark, all ye lovely saints; Bennet's All creatures now; Farnaby's Carters, now cast down; Vautor's anguished but not at all churchy Cruel Madame; and Byrd's Though Amaryllis dance offering a more musically intricate contribution to the pastoral tradition. (The cross rhythms in this piece so excited E H Fellowes that he likened them to Brahms's compositional style.) In between, and most original of all in many ways, are the two pieces by Thomas Morley: Hark! Alleluia, which comes as close to representing the music of the spheres as any piece I know; and Phyllis, I fain would die now, a dialogue between Phyllis (sung by three women in ballett-style) and Amintas, her lover (sung by four men in sacred polyphonic style). Only at the end do all the seven voices sing together.

The closest The Tallis Scholars normally come to singing madrigals in concert is in the anthems of the early Stuart composers: Tomkins, Weelkes and Gibbons in particular. In 1988 The Tallis Scholars made a recording of Anglican music by Thomas Tomkins, who, by choosing texts which had obvious opportunities for word-painting, was as adept as anybody at marrying sacred with secular style. In fact in one or two cases in Tomkins' output - Woe is me and When David heard among them - the same piece is to be found both in a published collection of madrigals (the set of 1622) and in the anthology called Musica Deo Sacra, of sacred music, which Thomas's son Nathaniel published after his father's death in 1668. These pieces have become known as ‘sacred madrigals' (they might as well have been called ‘secular anthems'), a title which encouraged me eventually to record Woe is me in both formats. The listener can decide which he or she prefers: the long lines and sustained dissonances suggest choral textures, while the intimacy of the complaint goes well on solo voices.

But madrigalian touches are never far from the surface of Tomkins' church music: O God, the proud are risen against me uses its eight voices to build up an unforgettable wall of complaint in the opening passage; while Almighty God, the fountain of all wisdom spends several minutes sounding like the most staid Anglican service setting in the repertoire until without warning, just before the Amen, all hell seems to break loose. Whether you call the dissonant harmony and whole-tone phrases which follow madrigalian or just experimental, they seem to take Tomkins' music out of the Renaissance period altogether.

© 2007 Peter Phillips

Deene Park was built and restored over a long period. There are remnants of stone-work from c.1300; but the Great Hall was finished in 1572 and it was there, under a fine hammberbeam roof and in front of the portrait of the man who built it - Sir Edmund Brudenell - that this recording was made. The style of the architecture, in common with several Elizabethan houses in Northamptonshire, is strongly Italianate. This very much suits a musical repertoire which found its inspiration in Italy, but which was so effectively Anglicized. For further information see www.deenepark.com.

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classicstoday.com
This is not technically a "new" release, but its existence and reissue in 2007 on the Tallis Scholars' Gimell label may come as something of a surprise even to fans of this eminent ensemble
more >>

MusicalCriticism.com
shows that madrigals represent more than just a frivolous musical pastime, that they can be complex and beautiful pieces of music
more >>

BBC Music Magazine
5 Stars
This sole recording of secular music by the Tallis Scholars makes one wish for more.
more >>

The Tallis Scholars directed by Peter Phillips

ENGLISH MADRIGALS

Soprano

Alison Gough (1,3-8,10,11); Emily van Evera (1-4,6-12)

Alto

Margaret Philpot (1-12); Michael Chance (3,6)

Tenor

Rufus Müller (2-5,7-9,11); Andrew King (1-3,5,6,8,10,12)

Bass

Julian Walker (2,5-7,9-12); Francis Steele (1-4,8,10,12)

Recorded by Mike Clements in the Great Hall at Deene Park, Northamptonshire, England, on April 23rd, 24th and 25th, 1982.

 

ANTHEMS & SACRED MADRIGALS

Soprano

Sally Dunkley (13-19); Deborah Roberts (13-19); Tessa Bonner (14,16-19); Ruth Holton (14,16-19)

Alto

Robert Harre-Jones (13-19); Michael Lees (13-19); Nigel Short (13-19); Caroline Trevor (13-19)

Tenor

Charles Daniels (13-19); Richard Edgar-Wilson (13-19); Angus Smith (19); Andrew Tusa (19)

Bass

Donald Greig (13-19); Francis Steele (13-19); Stephen Charlesworth (16-19); Jonathan Markham (16-19)

Recorded by Chris Eyres and Sean Lewis in the Church of St Peter and St Paul, Salle, Norfolk, England, on July 18th,19th and 20th, 1988.

 

Produced by Steve C Smith and Peter Phillips for Gimell Records.

Peter Phillips prepared all the musical editions for Gimell Records except for Tomkins' Be strong and of a good courage which was prepared for Gimell Records by Francis Knights.

Cover picture: Portrait of a girl (probably Venetia Stanley, later Lady Digby) by Peter Oliver (c.1594-1647). © Victoria & Albert Museum, London, UK / The Bridgeman Art Library.

The copyright in this sound recording and in its accompanying sleeve notes, translations and visual designs, is owned by Gimell Records.

This compilation (P) 2007 Original sound recording made by Gimell Records.
© 2007 Gimell Records

The musical editions performed in these recordings are available to download free of charge in the PDF format. Please respect the copyright notice shown on each edition.




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