Tallis: Spem in alium; Missa Salve intemerata

Tallis: Spem in alium; Missa Salve intemerata

by Oxford Camerata
     
 

Released to mark the 500th anniversary of the birth of Thomas Tallis, the most important composer, along with William Byrd, of the English Renaissance, this disc offers some of Tallis's most impressive music for the church. The extended five-voice Motet "Salve intemerata," a setting of a poetic prayer to Mary, was probably composed when Tallis was in his early 20s,… See more details below

Overview

Released to mark the 500th anniversary of the birth of Thomas Tallis, the most important composer, along with William Byrd, of the English Renaissance, this disc offers some of Tallis's most impressive music for the church. The extended five-voice Motet "Salve intemerata," a setting of a poetic prayer to Mary, was probably composed when Tallis was in his early 20s, although very little is known of the composer's biography, and secure dates (including his year of birth) are few and far between. Nevertheless, the Motet's florid style points to this early period in the composer's life, before the religious upheavals of the English Reformation would compel him to adopt a more straightforward style. The following parody Mass, which is based on the Motet, also dates to the pre-Reformation period, although its greater concision hints at Tallis's developing facility. The three concluding works, on the other hand, are all products of the changes imposed by the Reformation monarchs. In English instead of Catholic Latin, they display a greater directness of expression than the earlier music. The most extraordinary composition on this disc, however, is the forty-voice Motet "Spem in alium." Composed late in Tallis's life, it is an indisputable masterpiece of the English Renaissance. Jeremy Summerly leads the Oxford Camerata in a suitably majestic performance, with the voices gradually combining to form a thrilling and sonically opulent whole. The effect is particularly gripping in the SACD and DVD-Audio versions of the recording, which take advantage of all that surround-sound technology has to offer.

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Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - James Manheim
Thomas Tallis was a composer who inclined toward musical extremes -- or sometimes was pushed toward them. The opening title track of this CD, "Spem in alium," is a 40-voice motet for eight five-voice choirs. There's nothing like it in the Renaissance repertory except for an Italian piece to which it was written in answer, as a response to a challenge. A major achievement of Tallis' old age, it is balanced on this recording by an enormous (23-minute) motet, "Salve intemerata," by the young Tallis, as well as a later "Missa salve intemerata" that uses the Renaissance parody technique (a sort of musical paraphrase) as a form of musical self-critique; the material from the motet is gracefully compressed. When religious winds shifted and Tallis needed to write minimal Anglican music in English, he did that, too. But this beautiful recording by the Oxford Camerata does not include any of Tallis' very simple Anglican pieces, such as the familiar "If Ye Love Me." Instead, the three English pieces that close out the disc are all associated in some way with Latin-language Tallis compositions, and they thus occupy an interesting middle ground between the Catholic and Anglican phases of Tallis' career. For those interested primarily in "Spem in alium," this recording makes an excellent choice; director Jeremy Summerly achieves just the right degree of transparency to bring out the incredible richness of contrapuntal detail in a work that too often sounds unwieldy. The sometimes sonically challenged Naxos label has done a superb job this time out. An available SACD disc should be worth the money for those who have good equipment; it should bring out yet more detail that Summerly has aimed at through innovative singer placement. Listeners interested in what a profound masterwork like "Spem in alium" might reveal about its composer as a younger man -- in the expansive side of Tallis' musical personality -- will find an intelligently chosen program here. And any buyer will get a gorgeous hour of English Renaissance choral singing.

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Product Details

Release Date:
06/21/2005
Label:
Naxos
UPC:
0747313277025
catalogNumber:
8557770
Rank:
223968

Related Subjects

Tracks

  1. Spem in Alium (also set as "Sing and glorify"), motet for 40 voices, P. 299  - Thomas Tallis  -  Oxford Camerata  - Jeremy Summerly  -  Master of the Rohan Hours
  2. Salve intemerata virgo, motet (antiphon) for 5 voices, P. 144  - Thomas Tallis  -  Oxford Camerata  - Jeremy Summerly  -  Master of the Rohan Hours
  3. Mass "Salve intemerata", for 5 voices, P. 3  - Thomas Tallis  -  Oxford Camerata  - Jeremy Summerly  -  Master of the Rohan Hours
  4. Salvator mundi (I) (also set as "Arise O Lord" and "With all our hearts"), motet for 5 voices, P. 216  - Thomas Tallis  -  Oxford Camerata  - Jeremy Summerly  -  Master of the Rohan Hours
  5. Discomfort them O Lord, for 5 voices (contrafacta of Absterge Domine)  - Thomas Tallis  -  Oxford Camerata  - Jeremy Summerly  -  Master of the Rohan Hours
  6. O sacrum convivium (also set as "I call and cry to thee" and "O sacred and holy banquet"), motet for 5 voices, P. 210  - Thomas Tallis  -  Oxford Camerata  - Jeremy Summerly  -  Master of the Rohan Hours

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