In Celebration of the Human Voice - The Essential Musical Instrument
The Tallis Scholars were founded in 1973 by their director, Peter Phillips. Through their recordings and concert performances, they have established themselves as the leading exponents of Renaissance sacred music throughout the world. Peter Phillips has worked with the ensemble to create, through good tuning and blend, the purity and clarity of sound which he feels best serve the Renaissance repertoire, allowing every detail of the musical lines to be heard. It is the resulting beauty of sound for which the Tallis Scholars have become so widely renowned.
The Tallis Scholars perform in both sacred and secular venues, giving around 70 concerts each year across the globe. In 2009-2010 the group will tour the USA twice and appear at festivals and venues across the UK and Europe including in their own Choral Series at Cadogan Hall. In 2011 the group will be returning to Japan and plans include a return visit to Australia. The Tallis Scholars team up with the National Centre for Early Music and the BBC in a now annual nation-wide composition competition, designed to encourage young people to write for unaccompanied voices. The winning entry will be part of the concert which will open the 2010 Chester Festival, alongside Palestrina's spectacular Missa Papae Marcelli.
The Tallis Scholars' career highlights have included a tour of China in 1999, including two concerts in Beijing; and the privilege of performing in the Sistine Chapel in April 1994 to mark the final stage of the complete restoration of the Michelangelo frescoes, broadcast simultaneously on Italian and Japanese television. The ensemble have commissioned many contemporary composers during their history: in 1998 they celebrated their 25th Anniversary with a special concert in London's National Gallery, premiering a Sir John Tavener work written for the group and narrated by Sting. A further performance was given with Sir Paul McCartney in New York in 2000. The Tallis Scholars are broadcast regularly on radio (including performances from the BBC Proms at the Royal Albert Hall in both 2007 and 2008) and have also been featured on the acclaimed ITV programme The Southbank Show.
Much of The Tallis Scholars reputation for their pioneering work has come from their association with Gimell Records, set up by Peter Phillips and Steve Smith in 1980 solely to record the Scholars. In February 1994 Peter Phillips and the Tallis Scholars performed on the 400th anniversary of the death of Palestrina in the Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore, Rome, where Palestrina had trained as a choirboy and later worked as Maestro di Cappella. The concerts were recorded by Gimell and are available on both CD and DVD.
Recordings by the Tallis Scholars have attracted many awards throughout the world. In 1987 their recording of Josquin's Missa La sol fa re mi and Missa Pange lingua received GRAMOPHONE magazines Record of the Year award, still the only recording of early music ever to win this coveted award. In 1989 the French magazine DIAPASON gave two of its coveted Diapason d'Or de l'Annee awards for recordings of a mass and motets by Lassus and of Josquin's two masses based on the chanson L'Homme arme. Their recording of Palestrina's Missa Assumpta est Maria and Missa Sicut lilium was awarded GRAMOPHONE's Early Music Award in 1991; they received the 1994 Early Music Award for their recording of music by Cipriano de Rore; and the same distinction again in 2005 for their disc of music by John Browne which was also nominated for a Grammy. Their most recent disc, featuring the music of Josquin, received exceptional reviews and was awarded a further Diapason d'Or.
These accolades are continuing evidence of the exceptionally high standard maintained by the Tallis Scholars, and of their dedication to one of the great repertoires in Western classical music. For the latest opportunities to hear the Tallis Scholars in concert, or for more information on how to purchase CDs or DVDs of the group, please visit the Gimell Records website. Here you will also find details of how to register for free e-newsletters, purchase gift vouchers for items available on the website, and news of forthcoming releases and occasional special offers.
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Review: The Allegri Miserere, probably the most famous piece of this period is usually coupled with other well known pieces. This recording has the advantage of including a couple of less-known, but stunning works (okay, the Palestrina is quite popular, but even so...). As usual, the Tallis Scholars give a polished performance. Altogether, it's a great recording,
Songlist: Miserere, Vox Patris caelestis, Missa Papae Marcelli, Kyrie, Gloria, Credo, Sanctus & Benedictus, Agnus Dei I & II
Review: Recorded at the Church of St Peter and St Paul in Norfolk, England, this collection of medieval carols, renaissance motets and German chorales by this English mixed ensemble is devout, harkening back to to a time centuries past. Performed with as much allegiance to the original forms as possible, these are simple arrangements, many of which would have been sung by the populus at large, in commemoration of religious occasions. Four settings of 'Ave Maria,' two attributed to Victoria and one to Des Pres among them, are represented; musically, this ubiquituous homage to the blessed Virgin was distinguished by variations in rhythm, texture and so forth. A peaceful and serene recording.
Songlist: Medieval Carols, Angelus Ad Virginem, Nowell Sing We, There Is No Rose, Nowell: Dieu Vous Garde, The Coventry Carol, Lullay: I saw, Lully, Lulla Thou Little Tiny Child, Lullaby by William Byrd, Settings Of Ave Maria, Ave Maria for four voices by Josquin Des Pres, Beata Es Virgo / Ave Maria for seven voices by Philippe Verdelot, For four voices attributed to Victoria, For double choir by Victoria, German Chorales, Es Ist Ein' Ros', Joseph Lieber, In Dulci Jubilo, Wachet Auf, Ruft Uns Die Stimme
Review: To celebrate their 25th anniversary, sacred music specialists the Tallis Scholars re-released on their own Gimell label a disc that has been a cipher in their catalog for a long time, English Madrigals, recorded in 1982 for EMI's Classics for Pleasure imprint and unavailable for so long as to be virtually forgotten. It is heartening to see the list of singers active under Peter Philips' direction in that bygone era -- Emily van Evera, Margaret Philpot, Michael Chance, and Andrew King among them -- all names unknown in 1982 that have figured very prominently in the early music boom soon to follow. As the original Classics for Pleasure LP, though digitally recorded, ran short by twenty-first century standards, Gimell has expanded it through including the odd pieces used to fill out an early release, Tomkins: The Great Service. As one comes to expect from the Tallis Scholars in music of a more serious kind, the performances of the English Madrigals are terrific; in the notes, Philips states that their ultimate single-mindedness might have slackened somewhat 'if there hadn't been so much first-rate sacred music to explore.'
Songlist: Hark, All Ye Lovely Saints, Hark, Alleluia, Phyllis, I Fain Would Die Now, Cruel Madame, Ah Dear Heart, Draw On Sweet Night, All Creatures Now, Sleep, Fleshly Birth, Carters, Now Cast Down, Woe Is Me, Though Amaryllis Dance, The Silver Swan, When David Heard, Then David Mourned , Almighty God, The Fountain Of All Wisdom , Woe Is Me, Be Strong And Of A Good Courage, O Sing Unto The Lord A New Song, O God, The Proud Are Risen Against Me
Review: One of the most noted groups in the world of Renaissance music, the Tallis Scholars bring us a compilation of their work from 1980-1998. 'The Essential Talllis Scholars,' a two CD set, gives us an introduction to the vast amounts of music from this period and their discography. Disc 1 contains motets by such composers as Palestrina, Josquin and Lassus. The opening piece is the incomparably gorgeous 'Miserere' by Allegri, which should be in everybody's library. Disc 2 is comprised of works by English composers, such as Tallis and includes Byrd's 'Mass for 5 Voices.' If you are new to the works of the Tallis Scholars or to the world of Renaissance music, this is a great place to start.
Songlist: Meserere, Ave Maria for double choir, Sicut lilium I, Praeter rerum seriem, Pater peccavi, Ego flos campi, Tota pulchra es, Descendi in hortum meum, Alma redemptoris mater, Salve regina, Ave regina caelorum, Gloria from Missa Et ecce terrae motus , Media vita , In manus tuas, O nata lux, Audivi vocem, Exaudiat te Dominus, Ah, Robin, Salve regina, Mass for 5 Voices
Review: This recording presents the only two Masses by Josquin which are entirely based on canons; a single melody stated in different voice-parts at different times so that it overlaps with itself. To write this kind of music may sound academic to the modern mind: who is interested in mathematical scaffolding which most people can't hear? But Josquin was interested in it - as were many later composers from Bach to Brahms to Webern - and I knew that, like every composer of genius, he would relish the challenge. -Peter Phillips
Songlist: Kyrie, Gloria, Credo, Sanctus & Benedictus, Agnus Dei I, II & III, Kyrie, Gloria, Credo, Sanctus & Benedictus, Agnus Dei I, II & III, Sanctus & Benedictus, Agnus Dei I, II & III
Review: Haunting performances by the Tallis Scholars of music reflecting the dark and anguished emotions of Holy Week. As Easter music, this CD is a perfect addition to the St Matthew and St John Passions. - 'Turning to the Tallis Scholars is a reminder of how supremely good Peter Phillips and his singers really are. It is like the move from an ordinary family car to a high-octane Ferrari, a magnificently honed machine in which every component functions superbly.' (Gramophone)
Songlist: Lamentations I, Lamentations I , Lamentations II, Lamentations , Lamentations (5vv), Lamentations For Holy Saturday (Lesson 3, 6vv)
Review: The reputation of a composer of Palestrina's enormous output is necessarily based on a selection of his work. Since there have been no recordings, no offprints, no very accessible discussions of the Missa Benedicta es, it has been impossible for the work to become widely admired. It shows a side of Palestrina's writing which is not fully recognized: his indebtedness to Josquin. In addition, apart from its remarkable music, it has an important place in musical history. If ever it was thought necessary to prove that Palestrina early in his life gained much from coming under the influence of the great Franco-Flemish composers, this resplendent parody mass shows how important they were to him and how he could turn their idiom to his own ends. 25 years ago, Peter Phillips and The Tallis Scholars made their debut with this recording. To celebrate this milestone, Gimell offers this limited-edition budget priced reissue.
Songlist: Plainchant: Benedicta es , Benedicta es, Missa Benedicta es, Kyrie , Gloria, Credo, Sanctus & Benedictus, Agnus Dei I & II, Missa Nasce la gioja mia, Kyrie, Gloria, Credo, Sanctus & Benedictus, Agnus Dei I & II
Review: The Sarum Use was a medieval variant of the Roman Catholic liturgy originating at Salisbury and used throughout pre-Reformation England. The plainchant on this recording is from the First Mass of Christmas, known as the Mass at Cock-crow.
Songlist: Missa In Gallicantu, Christe Redemptor Omnium, Veni, Redemptor Gentium, Salvator Mundi, Domine, A Solis Ortis Cardine
Review: 'Spem in alium' is one of the most remarkable pieces ever written. This forty-voice motet for eight five-part choirs has carefully constructed counterpoint in alternation with striking homophony. No one is certain of the reasons that led Tallis to write something so bold. The large number of choirs creates an amazing stereo-effect and, therefore, is often sung surrounding the audience. The remaining motets on this recording are no less astounding. His merits as a composer must be remembered, as he remained court composer, despite being Catholic, under the rule of Elizabeth I. As usual, the Tallis Scholars lend sheer beauty and clarity to this phenomenal music.
Songlist: Spem in alium, Sancte Deus, Salvator mundi, salva nos I, Salvator mundi, salva nos II, Gaude gloriosa, Miserere nostri, Loquebantur variis linguis
Review: This two discs set includes selections of the best of previous Tallis Scholars Christmas recordings and includes medieval carols, German chorale harmonisations, complete polyphonic settings of the Mass based on Christmas themes, and motets dedicated to Mary and Joseph. Disc one includes the monumental Missa Pastores quidnam vidistis and the motet it parodies, both by the Flemish composer Jacob Clemens non Papa. The style of both the motet and the Mass is typical of Clemens's conservative interpretation of the Flemish way of composition, unfolding with great deliberation, every clause of words being given its own exposition in the polyphony. It is a classic style, capable of the greatest subtlety and variation of expression, while always inviting the listener to search more deeply into the music. Clemens uses a five-voice choir SSATB except in the final movement where he adds a second bass part. The second disc is dedicated much more specifically to plainchant, and music based on chant. It begins with the contents of the only record The Tallis Scholars have so far made of chant alone. This collection consisted entirely of music written for Christmas, beginning with the complete Mass 'at cockcrow' or 'in gallicantu'. This would have been celebrated at daybreak on Christmas Eve, and is taken from the Sarum rite. It begins with an Introit which moves straight into a troped Kyrie, the trope 'Deus Creator omnium' actually replacing the original words 'Kyrie eleison' and running to nine invocations (a 'trope' could be either a musical or a textual addition to traditional material). The Gloria begins with an intonation from the altar, the bulk of the text following in the syllabic style of the Kyrie. In addition to the Mass included are four hymns proper to the different Offices for Christmas Day: Christe Redemptor omnium is from Matins; Veni, Redemptor gentium is from Vespers; Salvator mundi, Domine is from Compline, and A solis ortus cardine from Lauds. These are amongst the best-known plainchant hymn tunes, which may often be heard today whether in Latin or the venacular. The disc also includes Tallis's Missa Puer natus est nobis, which is based on the Christmas plainchant of the same name.
Songlist: Medieval Carols, Angelus ad virginem, Nowell sing we, There is no rose, The Coventry Carol, Lullay: I saw, Lully, lulla, thou little tiny child, Ave Maria for four voices, Beata es virgo/Ave Maria, Ave Maria for four voices, Ave Maria for double choir, German Chorales, Es ist ein Ros', Joseph, lieber Joseph mein , In dulci jubilo, Flemish Polyphony, Pastores quidnam vidistis, Missa Pastores quidnam vidistis, Chant from Salisbury , Missa in gallicantu, Christe Redemptor ominum, Veni, Redemptor gentium, Salvator mundi, Domine, A solis ortus cardine, Missa Puer natus est nobis
Review: Palestrina is the composer The Tallis Scholars have sung and recorded most frequently and this two discs set contains some of the best, in their view, recordings from the very first record they made commercially (in 1980), to one of the most recent. In general they have concentrated on his Mass settings not least because they make such effective concert music. Palestrina had an unusual ability to write positive, outward-going, major-key music which, over the length of a Mass-setting, is a great strength: penitential writing tends to be more effective in shorter bursts. Three of the four settings in this collection rely on bright sonorities; the fourth - Sicut lilium - is more subdued and sensuous, as the words of the motet require. The Missa Assumpta est Maria, based on his own motet of that name which in turn is based on a short phrase of chant, is a classic example of sonorous Palestrina, its excitement achieved in large part by doubling the sopranos and tenors. The brighter sound this high-scored six-voice (SSATTB) choir produces is then emphasized in the style of the writing, which is more chordal than usual. The parody motet Assumpta est Maria shows the way in its opening bars: the three upper voices are grouped against the three lower ones in easily audible antiphony. This late-Renaissance method is then transferred to the Mass, most obviously in the Gloria and Credo but also in the first Kyrie, where greater elaboration was more customary. The sheer verve of this music has ensured that, along with Papae Marcelli, Assumpta est Maria has remained the most performed of all Palestrina's 107 Mass-settings. The second disc opens with a six-voice (SSATTB) set of Lamentations, originally the third lesson on the Saturday of Holy Week. The Missa Brevis (for four voices SATB), although relatively 'short' and straightforward in musical style, shows Palestrina's idiom at its most accessible.
Songlist: Assumpta est Maria in caelum, Missa Assumpta est Maria in caelum, Sicut lilum iner spinas I, Missa Sicut inter spinas, Lamentations for Holy Saturday (Lesson 3, 6vv), Missa Brevis, Missa Papae Marcelli
Review: Gimell presents a new release in their popular 2-for-1 series featuring The Tallis Scholars, this time focusing on the Requiem Mass. Conductor Peter Phillips says of this sublime music, 'From the split second that the opening Requiem aeternam chant is heard, every listener is inevitably transported. It is a classic instance of the power of music to communicate without reserve.' Requiem is offered in a deluxe slipcase package, and includes a a 24 page booklet. This set offers 155 minutes of glorious listening, and would make a perfect gift for any fan of choral music.
Songlist: Introitus: Requiem aeternam, Kyrie, Graduale, Offertorium: Domine Iesu Christe, Sanctus & Benedictus, Agnus Dei I, II & III, Communio: Lux aeterna, Responsory: Libera me, Versa est in luctum, Introitus, Kyrie, Graduale, Sequentia pro defunctis, Offertorium, Sanctus & Benedictus, Requiem for six voices, Communio: Lux aeterna, Responsorium pro defunctis, Introitus, Kyrie, Graduale, Offertorium, Sanctus & Benedictus, Agnus Dei I, II & III, Communio, Responsorium: Libera me, Non mortui , Sitivit anima mea, Mulier quae erat, Nos autem gloriari, Versa est in luctum, Credo quod Redemptor, Vivo ego, dicit Dominus, Ave Maria
Review: The Flemish masters have been at the heart of The Tallis Scholars' repertoire from the beginning, just as they were at the heart of the whole Renaissance musical scene. Masses were the showcase works through which these composers displayed their most sophisticated achievements. This new Gimell 2-for-1 set features five of the greatest, from five of the greatest masters, Brumel, De Rore, Lassus, Ockeghem and Isaac, specially selected by conductor Peter Phillips.
Songlist: Missa De Apostolis, Missa Au Travail Sus, Missa Osculeture me for double choir, Missa Praeter rerum seriem, Missa Et ecce terrae motus
Review: If one were looking for a superstar among Renaissance composers Josquin is unquestionably the front runner. He was a star in his lifetime, travelling more widely, being paid better and having more desirable employment than anyone else; and he has become a star again more recently. It is true that in the centuries in between it has been Palestrina and Tallis who were performed more consistently, where Josquin was forgotten, but this was on account of their simple music, which choirs of any ability could sing. Josquin didn't write any simple music. All his music is complex, intellectually and vocally, posing problems which have only recently been found to represent a supreme challenge. As with Beethoven it is now recognized that facing up to Josquin's message can bring unparalleled rewards; and, more than anywhere else, it is now clear it was in his Mass settings that he expressed that message at its most fluent. There are perhaps fifteen Mass settings by Josquin, all of which are essentially scored for four voices.
Songlist: Plainchant, Missa Pange Lingua, Missa La Sol Fa Re Mi, Praeter Rerum Seriem, Ave Maria, Anonymous Chanson: L'Homme Arme, Missa L'Homme Arme Super Voces Musicales, Missa L'Homme Arme Sexti Toni
Review: Focusing on the life and works of William Byrd, this DVD has a playing time of over 3 hours and includes filmed performances by The Tallis Scholars, a documentary on the composer and over 50 minutes of bonus audio tracks. The filmed performances feature over 70 minutes of sacred music by Elizabeth I's favourite composer including the Mass for 4 Voices and Ave verum corpus. It is performed by candlelight in the beautiful surrounds of Tewkesbury Abbey and recorded in genuine surround sound. In a seventy-minute documentary produced for the BBC, Charles Hazlewood further explores the life and music of William Byrd and the troubled times that produced some of the most intimate and passionate sacred music ever written. Bonus audio tracks including Byrd's Mass for 5 voices and Mass for 3 voices result in the complete audio recordings of Byrd's Masses being available on this one DVD.
Songlist: Mass For 4 Voices, Ave verum corpus, Diffusa est gratia, Magnificat, Ne irascaris, Nunc dimittis, O Make Thy Servant, Elizabeth, Prevent Us, O Lord, Tristitia et Anxietas, Vigilate, Mass For 5 Voices, Mass for 3 Voices, Tribune Domine
Review: Peter Phillips and The Tallis Scholars celebrated Palestrina's 400th anniversary with a unique concert in the Roman Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore where the composer sang as a choirboy and later became maestro di cappella. The concert was filmed for release on Video and has now been re-edited especially for this DVD release. There are 2 presentations of the same concert, an illustrated performance featuring the priceless artworks in the Basilica which are used to illuminate the sung texts, and a pure performance that is 100% Tallis Scholars. Optional captions name the artworks and describe the context in which they are used and sub-titles provide translations of the sung Latin into English, French, German, Italian, Spanish and Japanese. The concert includes a performance of Palestrina's Missa Papae Marcelli together with the Stabat mater, Alma redemptoris mater, Surge illuminaire, Magnificat Primi toni and the 8-part Nunc dimittis. There is also a stunning performance of Allegri's Miserere with Deborah Roberts as the soprano soloist
Songlist: Missa Papae Marcelli, Sabat Mater, Alma redemptoris mater, Surge, illuminaire, Magnificat Primi toni, Allegri Miserere