- Tallis Canon, for chorus
This release by the phenomenally popular British choir the Sixteen is a bit of a hybrid animal: neither quite a compilation nor an original release. Instead, the selections included make up a program entitled An Immortal Legacy that the Sixteen has performed in concert for many years. The "immortal legacy," needless to say, is not the music of the Sixteen itself, but rather that of Renaissance music, which has resounded in a unique way in English music down to our own time. The idea is a good one, although it's not clear why Michael Tippett, Benjamin Britten, and James MacMillan should be the only three contemporary composers represented, and still less so why Tippett's Five Spirituals from "A Child of Our Time" should have made the cut: with its (admittedly ingenious) treatment of African-American spirituals, it is among the least Renaissance-influenced of contemporary choral works. Nevertheless, the album presents a worthwhile selection of music that the Sixteen does perform, pointing up the variety of pieces within the Renaissance tradition itself in its programming. It's quite a shock to hear the romantic madrigal chestnut "April Is in My Mistress' Face" up next to Thomas Tallis' "Salvator mundi," one of the harmonically thorniest of his Latin motets, but that seems to be the idea here: this group has made recordings of various kinds but essentially specializes in colorful, dynamic recordings of British music. The engineers from the Sixteen's own Coro label have done quite well in remastering material dating from between 1991 and 2013, in no fewer than five locations. The result is an album worth considering for those interested in an introduction to the Sixteen, although there are other places to go, such as the anniversary release The Sixteen at 16.