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Playing Elizabeth's Tune - The Tallis Scholars Sing Byrd


Release Date: 10/10/2006 
Label:  Gimell   Catalog #: 992   Spars Code: n/a 
Composer:  William Byrd
Conductor:  Peter Phillips
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Tallis Scholars
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
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Notes and Editorial Reviews



BYRD Vigilate. Tristitia. Ne irascaris. Prevent us. O Lord, make thy servant Elizabeth. Magnificat . Mass for Four Voices. Ave verum corpus Peter Phillips, dir; Tallis Scholars GIMELL 992 (65:54 & )


This program was recorded at Tewkesbury abbey four years ago for a BBC-TV production, already issued on DVD two years ago (GIMDN 902). Focused on the Catholic composer’s relation to Queen Read more Elizabeth, the content is somewhat diffuse, beginning with three Latin motets from the 1589 “Cantiones sacrae” collection, then two prayers and an English Magnificat (from the Great Service) from Byrd’s Anglican works, and concluding with the Mass for Four Voices and the Ave verum corpus from the Gradualia, late works for recusant Catholic use. The group has recorded most of these earlier, all but the first four pieces. The texts were chosen pointedly for metaphorical references to the plight of his coreligionists: “Keep watch” for those who would arrest them, a prayer for God’s consolation in their “sadness,” and a plea “not to be angry” with his faithful people. The DVD has two additional motets from the Gradualia.


The Mass is slower than the group’s previous recording, except for the crucial Agnus Dei. This is still not as broad as the ethereal Hilliard Ensemble version, unmatched on records since it first appeared with the other two masses but, inexplicably, long deleted from the EMI catalog. To be sure, there are other fine versions from both college choirs and vocal ensembles, but this new disc benefits from the latest engineering (it is also issued on GIMSA 592 in surround sound, not received). All in all, this is an admirable presentation of Byrd’s music in the light of his position at the Chapel Royal.


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Works on This Recording

1. Mass for 4 Voices by William Byrd
Conductor:  Peter Phillips
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Tallis Scholars
Period: Renaissance 
Written: circa 1592-1593; England 
2. Vigilate by William Byrd
Conductor:  Peter Phillips
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Tallis Scholars
Period: Renaissaince 
Written: pub 1589; England 
3. Cantiones sacrae, Book 1: Tristitia et anxietas by William Byrd
Conductor:  Peter Phillips
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Tallis Scholars
Period: Renaissance 
Written: by 1589; England 
4. Liber primus sacrarum cantionum: Ne irascaris Domine by William Byrd
Conductor:  Peter Phillips
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Tallis Scholars
Period: Renaissance 
Written: by 1589; London, England 

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