Thomas Tallis served four monarchs in his post at the Chapel Royal, and was held in great esteem by his masters and colleagues. ‘Tallis is dead, and music dies’, said William Byrd, his most distinguished pupil. Tallis was a great survivor of the dangerous shifting sands of religious and court politics in England at the turn of the 16th century and his music displays remarkable craftsmanship. The intensity of expression, and the sheer unrivalled beauty and drama of his work enables it to reach out through the centuries and move the presentday listener. He is one the greatest English composers, and ranks among the 16th century’s most significant composers.
This recording brings together his two fine settings of the Lamentations of Jeremiah, and English adaptations of several of his best known Latin motets, including ‘Sing and glorify heaven’s high majesty’ which is better known as Spem in alium – the huge 40-part motet that has become his most famous work. Adapting Latin texts to English became an important task during the 1550s, and the process became known as ‘contrafactum’. Contrafacta survive in the output of many of Tallis’s contemporaries, especially John Taverner.
- Recorded in 2002.
- "Chapelle du Roi’s present recording … is of historic as well as musical interest … the choir has ordered its dynamics with skill" (Gramophone, June 1987).
- Booklet notes and sung texts included.