The Hilliard Ensemble: Tallis - Lamentations of Jeremiah (APE)
The Hilliard Ensemble: Tallis - Lamentations of Jeremiah (APE)

Performer: The Hilliard Ensemble
Composer: Thomas Tallis
Audio CD
Number of Discs: 1
Format: APE (image+cue)
Label: Ecm Records
Size: 203 MB
Recovery: +3%
Scan: yes

01. The Lamentations Of Jeremiah: Incipit Lamentatione
02. The Lamentations Of Jeremiah: De Lamentatione
03. Salvator Mundi
04. O Sacrum Convivium
05. Mass For Four Voices: Gloria
06. The Lamentations Of Jeremiah: Credo
07. Mass For Four Voices: Sanctus
08. Mass For Four Voices: Benedictus
09. Mass For Four Voices: Agnus Dei
10. Absterge Domine

Tallis, while not suffering from the almost total neglect that some important and talented composers of his period have experienced, is certainly less recorded than Palestrina, for example. I think that he does not receive the recognition he is due. While his output is small compared to juggernauts like Palestrina and de Lassus, it is almost without exception all of the highest order. Tallis is amazing in that his compositions include numerous little treasures – compositional gems of stunning beauty. A number of those gems are recorded here. O Sacrum Convivium (the text of which is translated as ‘O sacred feast wherein Christ dwells; we call to mind in grateful thanks his most bitter passion while our souls are filled with grace. We beseech thee to us everlasting glory.”) is an amazing piece of reflective music – the poetry of the text is matched by wonderful, flowing lines. The Lamentation settings (among the best of his large works) are marvels for their dark, brooding, penintential character. The rest of the pieces on the disc are also of good quality. The Hilliard Ensemble is among the best early music groups. Their tone, blend, balance, sense of line, dynamics, and pacing are superb. They are the perfect group to sing these pieces (almost all written for men’s voices – bass, tenor, alto, and treble). So they are excellent technically. On an interpretive level their decisions are all good. They sing the music without haste, infusing it with a proper sense of devotion. Also, they sing this music in its original pitch (not transposed up as it is sung by The Sixteen and The Tallis Scholars, just to name two groups). The singing of the Lamentations, for example, in this low register, preserves the darkness of these pieces and in the other motets and the mass ensures the proper color and density of sound. This recording is much preferred to recordings by the Tallis Scholars. The recording of the Lamentations (and other pieces, some of which overlap between the two recordings) by the Westminster Cathedral choir offers the reverberant acoustics of that church, but cannot match this one in purity of tone, balance, etc. Additionally, there is something about this music which just feels right in the intimate reading given it by the Hilliard Ensemble. For another fine recording of the mass on this disc, the recording of Tallis’ complete works by Chapelle du Roi is recommended. Anyway, this recording of Tallis’ music by the Hilliard Ensemble can be recommended with the utmost enthusiasm, and without reserve.

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