This collection would make a formidable weapon in the armoury of any early music evangelist. Many of the greatest sacred works of the English Renaissance are included here, and surely the intention in making this compilation was that this should become the gold standard performance. The Tallis Scholars can be relied upon to sing with a full, lustrous sound, perfect tuning, good blend and a good feeling for the scope of the music. Some may find the sound anodyne, almost too perfect to reveal the character of the music, but it has a warmth and humanity to it which counterbalance any tendency to mechanicalism.
The music itself is glorious; I particularly enjoyed the five huge John Browne pieces, the two for male voices (Stabat iusta and O regina mundi clara) making a rumbly close-harmony contrast to the five part pieces spanning a huge range and topped by the ice-pure treble of Ruth Holton. The Robert White Magnificat is a masterpiece I had not heard before, and now treasure. The minor-major corner which the piece turns in its final moments seems to lead straight to paradise!