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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Nothing lamentable here..., July 14, 2004
This review is from: Lamentations of Jeremiah (Audio CD)
--Thomas Tallis-
Thomas Tallis, born in 1505, was one of the outstanding liturgical composers of his day, being the acknowledged master of the composers of England from the time of Queen Mary's reign forward. He was a composer and Gentleman of the Chapel Royal during the reigns of Henry VIII, Edward VI, Mary, and Elizabeth, and worked closely with many other composers, most particularly William Byrd. He was an organist in addition to composer. He died in 1585, having navigated his way through the tumultuous catholic/protestant difficulties of the church which provided his livelihood and creative outlet.
--Lamentations of Jeremiah--
The Lamentations were most likely intended for use in Holy Week, but not as part of liturgical offices often performed during this time. They may have been compositions for private singing among Catholics officially suppressed, as some of Byrd's motets were found to be. This comes from relatively late times in Tallis' career.
--Mean Motets and Treble Motets--
Other pieces included on this disc include eight of Tallis' motets. The first five (mean) motets are scored for MAATB; the second three for TrMATB. Despite this, all eight are quite similar in style, timing and intention. Like the Lamentations, these derived from liturgical texts, but deviate from the standard forms sufficiently to make one wonder as to their actual use, and are also late compositions.
--Antiphon: Salve intemerata--
This piece undoubtedly derives from the early Tallis, from when Henry VIII was still a devout and loyal Defender of the Roman Catholic faith. Written perhaps as early as the 1530s, it is relatively old fashioned in style, with a five-part version. It is quite long and has a wide vocal range.
--Liner Notes--
Being internationally acclaimed, the Tallis Scholars' CDs typically present their commentary and texts in English, French, German and Italian (together with any Latin texts); that is true of this disc. The cover art also typically represents visual arts contemporary with the compositions - here it is a portrait of Henry VIII, aged 49, by Hans Holbein, roughly contemporary with Tallis.
--The Tallis Scholars--
The Tallis Scholars, a favourite group of mine since the first time I heard them decades ago, are a group dedicated to the performance and preservation of the best of this type of music. A choral group of exceptional ability, I have been privileged to see them many times in public, and at almost every performance, their singing seems almost like a spiritual epiphany for me, one that defies explanation in words. Directed by Peter Phillips, the group consists of a small number of male and female singers who have trained themselves well to their task.
Their recordings are of a consistent quality that deserve more than five stars; this particular disc of pieces by Thomas Tallis, the namesake of the group, deserves a place on the shelf of anyone who loves choral music, liturgical music or Gregorian chant, classical music generally, or religious music. It is remarkable, both in composition and performance. The original recording was made in 1992 in the church of St. Peter and St. Paul, Norfolk, one of their favourite recording sites.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Sure beats Gregory's original bunch, March 8, 2006
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This review is from: Lamentations of Jeremiah (Audio CD)
Think of this fine music as Gregorian Chants which are about a mile thick and ten times as melodic. This is a recording that you could buy for someone who cared not a whit for classical music and, if they had the slightest jot of cultural taste at all, they'd love it.

I got interested in this CD first from the standpoint of subject matter. The Lamentations of Jeremiah were of scholarly interest to me during a particular period (a secular examination of the text) and I thought that hearing the Lamentations sung might just enhance my understanding of this well-known Bible extraction. I'm so glad that I selected this particular conveyance.

Of course, the work is [primarily] a capello but, trust me, you won't miss the strings and woodwinds one bit. The Tallis Scholars fill all the gaps with often hair raising harmonies and chilling suspended notes. I particularly enjoy the smooth switching from the major to the minor key, achieved again, through shrewd harmonies.

Do yourself a favor and buy this CD. I typically don't care a great deal for early period classical works but here is a huge exception. And if you like to read and hear non-distracting tasteful music as wallpaper, this is the one, folks.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Tallis from the Tallis Scholars, March 20, 2011
This review is from: Lamentations of Jeremiah (Audio CD)
This has become one of my favorite recordings lately, I keep coming back to it over and over again. This is great Renaissance polyphony from the man who, along with the much younger William Byrd, literally held a monopoly on polyphonic music under Queen Elizabeth I.

Thomas Tallis is really something of a mystery, as he not only survived the religious upheavals under Henry VIII and his Tudor successors (Catholic to protestant and back again a couple of times), but actually seems to have done quite well for himself in the changing environments. That he did so as an avowed Catholic is all the more remarkable, and that he and Byrd were actually given a legal monopoly on polyphonic music under the Anglican Queen Elizabeth yet moreso.

Here we have music mainly from late in Tallis' career. The CD starts with the title tracks, parts I and II of the Lamentations of Jeremiah, followed by a series of shorter motets. Until the last track, all the works are from the Elizabethan era. The final track, the lengthy and satisfying Salve intemerata virgo, is in contrast one of Tallis' earliest surviving works, from the early reign of Henry VIII, before England broke from Rome and Cardinal Wolsey was accused of treason.

This is all music in Latin, although Tallis also composed in English during times when the winds were blowing Anglican, particularly during the short reign of Edward VI and under Elizabeth.

A fantastic album, highly recommended. The Tallis Scholars are recognized as one of the top ensembles in the interpretation of sacred vocal music from the Renaissance, and here they do a wonderful job on music by their namesake.
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Lamentations of Jeremiah
Lamentations of Jeremiah by Thomas Tallis (Audio CD - 2002)
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