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.
English composer Thomas Tallis witnessed dramatic changes of religion under four monarchs, and his career accordingly represents the development of polyphonic church music in Renaissance England. Along with his student and fellow Roman Catholic, William Byrd, Tallis was one of the earliest composers to publish music under royal patent in England, and his works demonstrated the shifting doctrines and styles of liturgy in the reigns of Henry VIII, Edward VI, Mary I, and Elizabeth I. This 2017 Obsidian release features one piece with a text by Henry VIII's sixth and last wife, Katherine Parr, which gives the album its title, though the mix of Roman Catholic and Anglican pieces on the program suggests that "songs of Reformation" may be seen as one-sided. In any case, the performances by the vocal ensemble Alamire and the viol consort Fretwork put the emphasis on Tallis and his varied output, rather than on the theological preferences of royalty. The result is a well-balanced portrait of Tallis, and his choral music is given transparent textures and clear diction by the 14-voice choir, which maintains independence of parts while offering an evenly blended tone.