LAMENTA -- "The Lamentations of Jeremiah" by Ferrabosco the Elder, Thomas Tallis, Antoine Brumel, Robert White and Giovanni Palestrina
Tallis Scholars/Peter Phillips, cond.
GIMELL 454 996 (F) (DDD) TT: 72:45 
 

 

Over the past few years there has grown a tidal wave of curiosity and cannonization over the chant-like mystical music of Hildegard of Bingen (1098-1179) -- a 6-CD anthology will be reviewed shortly. A similar sort of mesmerized adulation has been directed towards Renaissance music judging from the large number of new CDs devoted to that extraordinary period (1450-1600). Perhaps credit should go more to one special messenger than the message -- The Tallis Scholars. At a recent concert in UCLA's Royce Hall, a near capacity audience sat in rapt attention (a rarity these days) as the remarkable 10-member English ensemble under Peter Phillips sang unfamiliar motets by Palestrina, Josquin, Mouton, Byrd and White. At the concert's conclusion, following a few seconds of reverent silence, the audience rose to its feet and cheered and cheered .... and cheered.

Yes, The Tallis Scholars experience is special as also revealed in this CD holding "Lamentations of Jeremiah" by two well-known composers, Palestrina and Tallis, and by three relatively unknowns: Farrabosco the Elder (1534-1588), Robert White (1538-1574) and Antoine Brumer (1460-1520). No matter. The same choral magic is applied to all. The soprano tone combines the blended sounds of boy sopranos with the intensity of women. Add to this a counter-tenor/alto mix supported by a natural but controlled-vibrato bass, and the resulting choral sound is unique. Intonation is so accurate it's as if their singing is produced by a machine (or magic). Note: Gregorio Allegri's "Miserere," the Tallis Scholars' signature piece which features a very high soprano, is available on three of the choir's Gimell CDs. A must have!

K.S.