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Posted October 1, 2010
This music and its superb performance here has a quality of greenness to it-- like the difference in flavor between a bracing shot of raw wheatgrass in contrast to cooked and buttered spinach. In part, this is due to John Taverner, born in the 1400s, working in the adolescence of an English polyphony that was to mature in the next generation into the magisterial assurance of Byrd and Tallis. There are passages in the Benedictus and Agnus Dei like gangly limbs, all out of the mass's main thematic proportions, streaming on and on in reveries of gorgeous polyphony, sometimes oddly scored for only the lowest and highest voices, sometimes marshaling the whole choir for feats of flight. But partly the greenness comes from the choice in this performance to sing the score higher by a minor third, where some think Tudor church music was pitched. This puts the upper trebles, the
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