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Medieval Chant, Tallis Lamentations / Nigel Short, Tenebrae Consort

Release Date: 03/25/2014 
Label:  Signum U.k.   Catalog #: 901   Spars Code: n/a 
Composer:  AnonymousThomas TallisJohn Sheppard
Conductor:  Nigel Short
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 1 Hours 5 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

TALLIS Missa Puer natus est. Salvator mundi. Quod chorus vatum. Benedictus. Magnificat a 4. Audivi vocem de caelo. Videte miraculum Andrew Carwood, dir; The Cardinall’s Musick HYPERION 68026 (67:39 Text and Translation)

MEDIEVAL CHANT AND TALLIS LAMENTATIONS Nigel Short, dir; Read more Tenebrae Consort BENE ARTE 901 (65:23 Text and Translation)

This is the third disc in Andrew Carwood’s Tallis series. The first one marked his debut on Hyperion ( Fanfare 29:3), but now the next two have come in such quick succession (37:4 for the second one) that it seems as if he may be planning an alternative to Alistair Dixon’s set of the complete works on 10 Signum CDs (the ninth issue had an extra disc to get the overflow in). His favorite venue is Arundel Castle, probably for the historical significance of the recusant Catholic Duke of Norfolk’s estate as much as for the superb acoustics of Fitzalan Chapel, for he made his complete set of Byrd’s sacred music on 13 CDs there. The two recent discs each include a Mass, but this time he adds the chant introit for the third Mass of Christmas, though no Kyrie is supplied (Dixon included a Kyrie and a whole set of Mass Propers). Unlike Dixon’s homogeneous discs, Carwood offers more varied programming. The first disc had Latin-texted music, the longest being Gaude gloriosa (almost as long as a Mass). The second had more English-texted pieces than Latin to fill out the Mass. This one has mostly Latin works, including the two great gospel canticles, with only the Benedictus set in English.

Much as I have admired Alistair Dixon’s work, influenced certainly by the ambition of his project, Carwood has achieved a standing second to none among English vocal ensemble directors. That is saying a great deal, but in this field, it is crowded at the top, and each group will have its partisans. The Mass for Christmas of 1554 on this disc has attracted several recordings recently because of its connection with Queen Mary, whose presumptive “puer” (not the Christmas “Puer”) would have been the heir to the throne if he had been born. As it turned out, he was not even conceived. The closest competition in the Mass comes from the exquisite Stile antico (34:4), Peter Phillips, Harry Christophers, and Dixon’s volume 3 (21:6). Grant Llewellen (27: 5) is also good, though his choir is larger than these vocal ensembles. Reconstruction of the Mass parts started with David Wulstan (4:1; CD in 12: 1), but now this new entry must be considered in any comparison of the recordings.

The shorter works range from the familiar Videte miraculum to the seldom recorded Quod chorus vatum , though both belong to the feast of Candlemas. The latter was first recorded by Christopher Robinson (20:2) and is found now only in Dixon’s volume 4. Since Tallis wrote for both Catholic and Anglican liturgies, the juxtaposition of the English Benedictus followed by the Latin Magnificat must be a conscious effort to make the point. If this is indeed a new complete works in the making, it will be worthy of careful comparisons with Dixon’s set. Highly recommended.

The second disc consists of chant for Passiontide along with three polyphonic works: the two Lamentations of Thomas Tallis and the respond In manus tuas (I) by John Sheppard, all familiar on records, the last in Harry Christophers’s latest disc herewith. I have 21 recordings of the Lamentations dating back to the early 1950s, but the two Lamentations have never been coupled with chant responsories on record as here, though this practice has been adopted in settings of Lamentations by other Renaissance composers. Tallis made two Lamentations out of the text used in modern editions for the first Lamentation for Holy Thursday, the beginning of the Old Testament book.

This disc offers 40 minutes of chant to 25 minutes of polyphony, so the main interest is in Medieval Holy Week observances. The hymn Pange lingua for Good Friday (not the familiar text for Corpus Christi) begins the program—just four strophes and a doxology—followed by a complete Office of Compline because Sheppard’s responsory belongs to this Office, though it is placed further on. The responsories that follow the two Lamentations are In monte Oliveti and Tristis est anima mea ; the latter is from the familiar Tenebrae service but the former, oddly enough, is the variant version for Palm Sunday. The final track is a Holy Week chant that I have indexed on many recordings as Kyrie ... Qui passurus , found in several uses. Here it is titled a litany after Lauds of Holy Thursday, and may be a version from the Sarum use. Like many Holy Week chants, it is uniquely touching. The Tallis Lamentations, of course, are the featured tracks, as the disc title indicates, and they are sung elegantly. Nigel Short has given us some adroitly programmed discs, and this one is an original approach. You will know by now if this is for you, but I urge you to give it a chance.

FANFARE: J. F. Weber
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Works on This Recording

Pange Lingua gloriosi, hymn by Anonymous
Conductor:  Nigel Short
Period: Medieval 
Written: Europe 
Venue:  All Hallows Church, Gospel Oak, London 
Length: 3 Minutes 12 Secs. 
Compline for Passiontide by Anonymous
Conductor:  Nigel Short
Period: Medieval 
Venue:  All Hallows Church, Gospel Oak, London 
Length: 0 Minutes 52 Secs. 
Lamentations of Jeremiah: Part 1 by Thomas Tallis
Conductor:  Nigel Short
Period: Renaissance 
Written: after 1559; England 
Venue:  All Hallows Church, Gospel Oak, London 
Length: 8 Minutes 27 Secs. 
In monte Oliveti, responsory in mode 8 (Liber Usualis No. 633) by Anonymous
Conductor:  Nigel Short
Period: Medieval 
Written: Europe 
Venue:  All Hallows Church, Gospel Oak, London 
Length: 2 Minutes 18 Secs. 
Lamentations of Jeremiah: Part 2 by Thomas Tallis
Conductor:  Nigel Short
Period: Renaissance 
Written: after 1559; England 
Venue:  All Hallows Church, Gospel Oak, London 
Length: 13 Minutes 35 Secs. 
Tristis est anima mea, responsory by Anonymous
Conductor:  Nigel Short
Period: Medieval 
Venue:  All Hallows Church, Gospel Oak, London 
Length: 2 Minutes 52 Secs. 
In manus tuas Domine no 1 by John Sheppard
Conductor:  Nigel Short
Period: Renaissance 
Written: 16th Century; England 
Venue:  All Hallows Church, Gospel Oak, London 
Length: 3 Minutes 43 Secs. 
Litany after Lauds for Maundy Thursday by Anonymous
Conductor:  Nigel Short
Venue:  All Hallows Church, Gospel Oak, London 
Length: 3 Minutes 49 Secs. 

Sound Samples

Hymn for Passiontide: Pange lingua gloriosi
Compline for Passiontide: I. Deus in adiutorium
Compline for Passiontide: II. Antiphon ? Psalms
Compline for Passiontide: III. Chapter - Respond
Compline for Passiontide: IV. Hymn
Compline for Passiontide: V. Versicle & Response
Compline for Passiontide: VI. Antiphon ? Canticle [Nunc dimittis]
Compline for Passiontide: VII. Preces ? Collect ? Benedicamus
Lamentations of Jeremiah I
Respond: In monte Oliveti
Lamentations of Jeremiah II
Respond: Tristis est anima mea
Respond for Compline in Passiontide: In manus tuas I
Litany after Lauds for Maundy Thursday

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