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The Tallis Scholars sing Tudor Church Music - Volume One

"Of all the polyphony we have recorded, this early English style with its dazzling high treble parts and luminous sonorities is, for me, as good as it gets. Henry VIII would have known this sound from childhood and may well have included some of the music recorded here at his Coronation." Peter Phillips

Volume Two is available as CDGIM 210.

CDGIM 209 - No longer available on CD

Ostensibly marking the 500th anniversary of the coronation of King Henry VIII, the Tallis Scholars are releasing these two two-disc sets to celebrate the occasion, full of some of the finest Tudor music ever composed, though each and every one is a re-release of previous material. These sets are essentially half-price (going for around 20 bucks each), and well worth the investment if you don't already have the duplications.

For those newcomers to this group, suffice it to say that you will rarely find an ensemble as carefully rehearsed or skillfully prepared for the repertory they choose to engage in - simply one of the finest ever, legendary, and there has never been a disc they have released that has gotten less that rave reviews. Some people find the sound a little close on some of the discs, but this is a nit - the singing has been standard setting for years, and I find myself just a little envious of those who are only now discovering them. Conductor Peter Phillips has been at the forefront of the revival of late Medieval and early Renaissance music for some time now, and this set could serve as the beginning of a great discovery for many people. Especially noteworthy are the three aforementioned Western Wind Masses, the first instance of English composers setting a mass to a popular tune (Taverner was the first). But all of these recordings are splendid, and worth the modicum of money to enhance any worthwhile collection.

Steven Ritter

Audiophile Audition

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!

Selene Mills

Early Music Review

There is such a wealth of beautiful music here, excellently performed and recorded. It comes on four very well-filled CDs offered as 2-for-1 packages. I scarcely know where to begin, except to recommend both sets in the strongest possible terms and to make them my joint Bargain of the Month. Had I not received them as review copies, I should most definitely have bought them or downloaded those items which I didn't already own from the Gimell website, where they can be obtained in very decent 320k mp3 sound or in lossless, CD-quality.

Brian Wilson

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