Ten English composers set the Latin text of the Lamentations of Jeremiah in the mid-16th century, in the reigns both of the Catholic Queen Mary and the Protestant Elizabeth I. Precise details are hard to establish of when works were performed, as Andrew Carwood explains in an illuminating note to this disc, but there seems little doubt that Tallis, though a Catholic, wrote his masterpiece for Elizabeth. The repeated final lines, “Jerusalem, Jerusalem, turn to the Lord your God”, unforgettable once heard, have a dark resonance here, thanks to the sonorous basses of the Cardinall’s Musick (Robert Macdonald, Simon Whiteley). The rest of this fine recording draws on music from across Tallis’s career, with English and Latin settings (Sancte Deus, Te Deum, Come, Holy Ghost and more). The singers reach the highest standards.
The Cardinall’s Musick and Andrew Carwood continue their exploration of the sacred music of the acknowledged master of the Tudor era, Thomas Tallis. This project follows the completion of their multi-award-winning series of Byrd’s Latin music. Tallis’s career spans the reigns of four radically different and difficult monarchs, all of whom forced their own religious beliefs on an increasingly divided country. Their various attitudes to the religious questions of the day meant that each required different liturgies and different music to adorn them. Tallis excelled in every style, and this album contains examples of each of them, from the monumental Marian votive antiphon Salve intemerata virgo to the modest English-texted settings of I call and cry to thee and of Psalm translations by Elizabeth I’s Archbishop, Matthew Parker.
Gramophone Record of the Year-winning group The Cardinall’s Musick continues its exploration of Tallis’s sacred music. These recordings not only showcase the greatest repertoire of the English Renaissance in dazzling performances, but also illustrate the complex historical and political background of the works and their genesis.
Hyperion’s record of the month for July celebrates the (probable) 500th anniversary of the birth of England’s first superstar composer, Thomas Tallis, and welcomes the signing to the label of The Cardinall’s Musick and Andrew Carwood. In a fifteen-year history The Cardinall’s Musick has progressively built an enviable reputation for excellence. Some twenty recordings on the ASV Gaudeamus label have seen accolades from around the world, including a Gramophone Award and a Diapason d’Or, while in the concert hall and workshop the group has consistently displayed innovation and a freshness of approach, whether tackling contemporary works (many of them commissions) or sharing the fruits of years of research into the music of the English Renaissance.
Gramophone award-winning ensemble The Cardinall’s Musick return to another master of the Renaissance, Robert Parsons. Very few records remain of the composer’s short life, and his musical output is often overlooked, perhaps in the shadow of the prolific William Byrd, his successor as a Gentleman of the Chapel Royal. However, his vocal writing is some of the most opulent of the period.
Following its nomination for a Gramophone Early Music Award in 2014, Contrapunctus releases an album of motets from the Baldwin Tudor partbooks, on the theme of mortality. Conducted by Owen Rees, the album includes Sheppard’s epic Media vita and other Tudor gems by Byrd, Parsons, Mundy, Taverner, Gerarde and Tallis, with Contrapunctus’s own reconstructions of the missing tenor parts.
Magnificat delivers once again; ‘Where late the sweet birds sang’ is a gorgeous contrapuntal choral collection of works by three of the leading Elizabethan composers, featuring some of the repertoire’s best singers. Since the time of Byrd Westminster and Winchester Cathedrals have been renowned as two of England’s finest choral cathedrals. The choristers on this recording, from Westminster and Winchester, maintain that lineage, their voices blending seamlessly and naturally.
Following the success of the Westminster Cathedral Lay Clerks in their sumptuous men-only recording of Victoria’s Missa Gaudeamus, the choir returns to full ranks for a further issue in their survey of the Masses of this undisputed Master of the Renaissance. This new recording opens with Victoria’s five-part setting of the Marian antiphon Salve regina, followed by two of the composer’s Masses: Missa De Beata Maria Virgine and Missa Surge propera, which is preceded by its Palestrina model.