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Palestrina - Missa Benedicta es

This analogue (AAD) recording was made in Merton College Chapel, Oxford, on March 21st and 22nd, 1981.

The plainchant "Benedicta es" is followed by a motet from Josquin that is based on the same melody and then by Palestrina's parody Mass based on the Josquin motet.


Artistic Quality - 10 / 10
Sound Quality  - 10 / 10

Back in 1981 an English vocal ensemble called The Tallis Scholars issued its first recording, Palestrina's Missa Benedicta es, made in the ideal acoustic setting of Oxford's Merton College Chapel. Everything about the recording, from the impeccable vocalism to the detailed, resonant sound to the classy packaging and informative liner notes spoke quality, and these performances (and those that quickly followed) set a new standard for early-music/Renaissance specialist ensembles and record labels. (Just listen to the ending of the Gloria or the Credo and you'll understand.)

Such vigorous, intensely expressed interpretations, precise intonation and careful balances, and vibrant, detailed sound were far from the norm back then for this repertoire--what there was of it. In fact, the Tallis Scholars were responsible not only for opening listeners' ears to new ways of interpreting Renaissance vocal music, much of it based on recent period-performance scholarship, but also to discovering a wealth of works and composers not well known to modern audiences.

Reproduced with the kind permission of


David Vernier

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