"I can't even begin to understand why this wonderful album, a selection from recordings of the renowned Tallis scholars starting in 1980, has remained without reviews so far. Let me tell all lovers of Renaissance music and choral music in general that this album is one of the best in its kind. For me, it is even superior to the overblown "The Best of the Renaissance" (also by the Tallis scholars). The enchantment begins wit the cds themselves, exquisitely decorated with a reproduction of the Vision of St Bernhard of Clairvaux by Renaissance painter Filippino Lippi. The plastic box is protected by a beautiful, glossy paper cover featuring cherubs absorbed in contemplation. Inside you will find a booklet containing the Latin texts of the chants translated in English, French and German (which is not the case with "The Best of the renaissance")together with a presentation-illustrated with photographs-of the Tallis scholars and the music of the album.
Although this is a compilation of different recordings extending over a dozen years or so, I would like to emphasize that there is not the slightest difference in sound quality between the various tracks.
One of the strong point of this album is the great variety of the sung pieces. Whereas "The Best of the Renaissance" features no less than 3 Masses (by Byrd, Desprez and Palestrina), which means hearing again and again Kyrie, Gloria, Credo, Sanctus and Agnus, this album offers a whole range of motets and hymns with a few major Mass pieces like the final Gloria by Brumel on the first cd, whose splendor almost puts it on a par with the gorgeous "Spem in Alium" by Thomas Tallis. Maybe the only weakness of this album is the choice of the composers, many of whom are rather obscure Flemish and English composers (who knows Crecquillon Isaac, Clemens, Cornysh, Sheppard, Rore, White?), although great names like Allegri, Byrd Palestrina, Lassus Victoria, Tallis and Desprez are also represented. But the music is splendid all along and,last but not least, in this recording you are spared the experimental music of pretentious Gesualdo, which in my opinion spoils "The Best of the Renaissance"."
The most delicate music of all time
N. Piplica | 12/29/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"i truely recommend this cd. i'm 19, grew up with metal, rock, n rap. But this is truelly the most delicate music, makes earth feel like heaven. it has changed my life, n hopefully changes yours. The music takes you farther than you will ever be as a human, farther than ur wildest dream. Listen and take the path of splendid creations.
Behold, The Wonder Of Man
Darken Mantius | Or, USA | 08/14/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Can any one believe the beauty of this music, the clarity of these voices, and the intonation resounding in every breath that they take. If this is not heaven on earth, and it already feels like it is, then we shall all be humbled to tears when we hear the angels choir. But i, for one, say that the Tallis Scholars are truly angels on earth, and their voices are proof of that. I am shocked that this cd has recieved 2 reviews, and am writing this to tell you, that you need to buy this cd, and listen to the clarity of voice that it bestows upon the mind."
The Greatest Hits of a Pioneer Ensemble
Billyjack D'Urberville | USA | 09/27/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"For years, Tallis Scholars have been quietly revolutionizing our recovery of sacred music. This is their "greatest hits" collection and quite great indeed. The Miserere which begins the set is alone worth the price of the set. The only fault with it is that it is so startling, so obviously genuine, that you will still be hearing it as you play through the rest of the set. The Scholars' ongoing recovery project only proves how integral music is to the human psyche, how essential the sacred is to basic human sanity. And how the severence of the two in the public space and the popular imagination -- the sacred from music -- has severely damaged us all en masse."
A voice teacher and early music fan
George Peabody | Planet Earth | 01/08/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"COMPILATION OF THE TALLIS SCHOLARS FROM 1980 TO 1998. The pieces on these two discs are taken from over fifteen years of recording by the Tallis Scholars, startng with the now-famous recording of Allegri's 'Miserere' from 1980. Allegri lived well into the Baroque era, dying in 1562. Therefore, he did not write the 'Miserere' in renaissance polyphony, and his chordal structure leaned toward the Baroque.
Victoria's 8-part 'Ave Maria' and Palestrina's 'Sicut lilium' are both pieces ln a contemplative mood, the first making direct reference to the Virgin Mary, and the second indirect reference to her via the poetry of the 'Song of Songs'. The remaining selections on Disc one maintain the consistent, intense sonority of Flemish polyphony.
Disc two falls into two parts. The pieces by Sheppard, Tallis,White and Cornysh come from the first half of the sixteenth century and are part of the 'English School' of writing. Here the music is made up of long lines, more notes than syllables, with the emphasis on the part-writing and not the harmonic background.
The second part of Disc 2 is Byrd's five-part Mass, which was written in the 1590's for a recusant Catholic community. Byrd's music has drawn closer to the Flemish style; that is imitative voice parts, largely syllabic in setting with the occasional examples of word-paintings, and the voice parts closer together. But the mood has a different intensity than the writing on Disc one; darker and more questioning. Never was polyphony more passionate than in Byrd's masses,of which the five-part is the crowning achievement.
All the music sung on these two discs benefits from, clarity, both in the singing and the surrounding building(Merton Chapel in Oxford and Salle Church in Norfolk); both buildings chosen for the clarity of their acoustic.
Whether the sonority includes very high notes, as in some of the English repertoire, or has thick textures, as with the Flemish writing as in Brumel's 12 voice 'Gloria', the quality is enhanced by the buildings.
The members of the Tallis Scholars vary from year to year, and the list of participating singers is included in the accompanying booklet; but it does not tell you which singers are singing each year. That bothered me somewhat because I like to know to whom I am listening specifically. It does mention, however, that the solo group in Allegri's 'Miserere' is Alison Stamp (treble), Michael Chance (countertenor) Jane Armstrong and Julian Walker.
The recording is outstanding in every way. Perfect balance between the voices, perfect emotional investment, flawless dicton and the most beautiful vocal sounds you will ever hear; just Two and One-half hours of pure pleasure!"