"This is the first of a projected full price series to cover Tallis’s complete surviving output from his fifty years of composition, and will include the sacred and secular music, and instrumental material, much of which is as yet unrecorded; this should cover nine discs. Great attention is to be paid to performance detail including pitch, pronunciation and the music’s liturgical context, and as a result new editions of the music are required, many of which will be published by the Cantiones Press.
...All the works on this disc are from Tallis’s early compositions; Ave Dei patris, Ave rosa spina and Salve inemerata are votive antiphons (settings of devotional texts sung after Compline, the final service of the day, in front of the image or altar of the saint to whom the text was addressed). Missa Salve intemerata is a small- scale setting of the English Mass, whilst Ora pro nobis (An Alleluia) and Euge celi porta are two items from the Lady Mass (the special votive Mass of the Virgin) (a votive Mass is one offered with a particular ‘intention’ or one offered in honour of a saint on some day other than the feast of that saint)...
The Chapelle du Roi is a choir of ten young singers specialising in the performance of sacred renaissance music and was founded in October 1994. Its conductor, Alistair Dixon, is an early music singer and conductor. He was educated at Millfield School as a music scholar and graduated from Liverpool University. In 1994 he was appointed a Gentleman in Ordinary at Her Majesty’s Chapel Royal, and founded Chapelle du Roi in the same year. Throughout the disc, the singing of all parts is uniformly good, with very clear diction, as befits a small group, and great attention to detail.
... Further discs are awaited with eager anticipation, and to anyone interested in this period of English music, or those wanting to acquire knowledge of the same, this disc is a must. Wholeheartedly recommended."
MuiscWebInternational - November 2002
"The launch of a complete recorded Tallis on top of one if not more complete recorded Byrds is a major advance over the admirable previous efforts to document such composers as Fayrfax and Ludford, whose total surviving output would fit on a few CDs. These two composers, rather, are major undertakings. A few years ago (Fanfare 14:2) we saw considerable attention to Thomas Tallis (ca.1510-85), a composer who uniquely survived from Catholic times to the Elizabethan era.
Each of the first three discs has something new to offer, while each disc includes one of the composer’s three Masses. On the first disc the new items are two Proper sections from the Mass of Our Lady (preserved in the Gyffard partbooks), but the rest of the disc contains the entire contents of Metronome MET CD 1014 (Fanfare 20:3), which itself included the first recording of two early votive antiphons. The new disc shaves eight minutes off the total time of the earlier disc, so the two new pieces and a chant Kyrie (to fill out the Mass) bring the disc back up to the same timing. The Missa Salve intemerata that forms the centerpiece of this disc enjoys its fourth recording.
If you have the Metronome CD already, you need not fret about duplicating it with the first entry here, for the boys and men of Canterbury, their slightly broader tempos, and the acoustics of the place make it a splendid choice. New purchasers will be very pleased with all three of these discs. Nick Sandon writes all the notes, taking a very personal and sometimes highly charged view of Tallis’s career and his times. This is more than worthwhile: it is a splendid achievement."
J. F. Weber
"Each of the first three discs of this set of the complete works of Thomas Tallis offered a Mass, filled out with votive antiphons and motets. The pieces on this disc are hymns and responsories for the Divine Office, mostly composed during the last years of Henry VIII. An early Magnificat is also heard here (the finer setting of his Elizabethan years was recorded on the second disc, along with some English settings for Anglican worship). Another disc of Office pieces will appear next.
It is significant that Tallis wrote several polyphonic works for Compline. Some of the greatest Catholic works of the Tudor period were votive antiphons, which were sung after Compline. Since they were additions to the liturgical hours, they were the first to be eliminated by the reformers. By composing these settings for Compline, Tallis made up for the loss of the splendid votive antiphons. Other pieces composed for the Office belong to major feast days when the king took part in the liturgy of the Chapel Royal.
Much of the music is sung from new editions, and the singing is of great distinction. All of these works have been recorded, some of them only once before, but the systematic organisation of this complete set is an advantage in understanding and appreciating their place and purpose."
Jerome F. Weber
Goldberg Magazine - February 2000
"The Chapelle du Roi is a choir of just ten young singers, and these intimate performances approximate the sound that Tallis might have heard during the early years of his career, though with female sopranos replacing boy trebles. These are fresh, unaffected accounts, using the predominately slow tempi that seem to have been prevalent in sacred music for this period. Despite one of two rough edges in the more exposed passages for single voices, the standard of singing is exceptionally high. What’s more, the project has been diligently planned and researched, with several of the pieces newly edited for performance, and excellent notes by Nicholas Sandon. The Chapelle du Roi will be an unfamiliar name to many people, but the quality of this disc will surely put these talented performers on the musical map."
BBC Music Magazine - July 1997
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