Tallis: Spem in Alium, Salvator Mundi Import
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Other treats include the popular Pentecost motet Loquebantur variis linguis, two beautiful settings of the prayer Salvator mundi, and the 20-minute votive antiphon Gaude gloriosa, which has intricate imitative passages for three to four soloists alternating with vigorous writing for full choir. --Matthew Westphal
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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.
--Spem in alium--
This piece, Spem in alium numquam habui (I have no faith in any other [than God]), is Tallis' most famous piece. It is a 40-part motet, set up for eight five-part choirs. It is a masterpiece. Tallis blended the chordal with the polyphonic here, to great effect. The number of voices makes for interesting effects, particularly when done in cathedral settings. Several stories have appeared about why this work was composed, but in the end, it remains unknown.
Other pieces included on this disc include Tallis' Sancte Deus, one of his early works, done during the reign of Henry VIII, and two settings of Salvator mundi, salva nos. These are rather smaller pieces, particularly in comparison with Spem in alium. Gaude gloriosa is more in keeping with Spem in alium, in terms of length and phrasing. The Miserere is a seven-part technical masterpiece very close in form to traditional English canonical settings. The final piece, Loquebantur variis linguis, is a seven-voice chant.Read more ›
As with all the Tallis Scholars recordings that I have heard, "Spem in Alium" is a thing of true beauty. I rank it alongside their recording of Palestrina's assumption Mass and Obrecht's Missa Maria Zart as some of their best work.
"Spem in alium" is something to hear. There are very few pieces of early music that even come close to its scope or grandeur. I suggest waiting until you are all alone in the house and then cranking the volume way up--it is the only proper way to truly drink in this music.
Yet, for as great as the grand title track is, the real jewel for me on this recording is the "Gaude gloriosa." One cannot listen to this stirring, intense music without being moved.
This program of music, though short, is very well put together. The singing is first rate. The recording captures everything perfectly. I highly recommend this CD.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
You may like to know that this excellent disc has been reissued as part of a superb 2CD set at budget price. Read morePublished 12 months ago by Sid Nuncius
When I listen to "Spem in alium (40 voice motet)" I am sometimes moved to tears, and each time I listen I'm mezmerized by the genius of Tallis and the awesome performance... Read morePublished 14 months ago by JMW
I had generally avoided this musical period, and had been ignorant of Thomas Tallis until hearing the version of Spem in Alium on the Kronos Quartet's disc Black Angels. Read morePublished 20 months ago by Larry Benjamin
I am not a learned devotee of early vocal music, but rather a casual if often enraptured listener. And rapturous is an apt adjective to apply to this disc. Read morePublished 24 months ago by J. R. Trtek
I can play this cd and be transported to another realm totally. Wonderful to relax at days end and before drifting off to sleep.Published on August 14, 2013 by louise marley
Have to admit I learned of this from 50 Shades of Grey - (was not a music major in college) but now have a new appreciation for some more-than-heavenly music. I'm hooked.Published on March 10, 2013 by artfairy
Totally complex 8-4-part contrpuntal piece written for Queen Elizabeth's I 40th birthday.
Alas can't get the full impact of it being sung by all 8 groups circling a cathedral... Read more