Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Allegri: Miserere - The Tallis Scholars, Peter Phillips

Allegri: Miserere, Palestrina: Missa Papae Marcelli,
Mundy: Vox Patris Caelestis
The Tallis Scholars, Peter Phillips
Gimell CDGIM 339

The original release, not the cheap 25th Anniversary version.

Here's a wonderful introduction to Renaissance choral music, with two tried-and-true repertory standards and the Mundy, a gorgeously sensuous example of a lesser-known mid-16th-century work, whose complex polyphonic strands are rendered with compelling involvement by the Tallis Scholars. These performances were among the group's earliest recordings and helped catapult them into the forefront of specialists in this demanding repertoire. The Allegri became a favorite back in the 1970s, a sort of choral equivalent of Albinoni's Adagio, in which repetition serves as the driving force. The Tallis Scholars give it welcome variety through spatial placement in a large church and their colorful singing. Palestrina's Missa Papae Marcelli is one of that great composer's finest works. Its mastery of polyphony while clarifying the text is said to have convinced the Church to withhold its impending ban on polyphonic church music. The group sounds larger than its 21 members because of the acoustics, the clear diction of the Scholars, and the power of their singing, always transparent and involved. They use female sopranos instead of boys' voices, so there's more heft and color than we often hear from early-music groups. Vivid engineering makes the CD even more attractive.

Dan Davis, Amazon Editorial Review

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