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Brumel: Missa Et Ecce Terrae Motus/Phillips, Tallis Scholars

Release Date: 07/10/2001 
Label:  Gimell   Catalog #: 26   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Antoine Brumel
Conductor:  Peter Phillips
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Tallis Scholars
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 1 Hours 13 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

The Tallis Scholars bring to this performance of Brumel's 'Earthquake' Mass—his 12-part Mass based on the Easter antiphon Et ecce terrae motus—their faultless sixteenth-century technique and their wide experience of renaissance music. In addition, the clean acoustics of the parish church of Salle in Norfolk provide them with ideal sound conditions for tackling music of such complexity. Indeed, the lines are easily distinguished and the overall effect is one of controlled, if somewhat remote, precision and perfection—the feeling of remoteness arising, perhaps, from my having heard some months ago, on Sony Classical's Vivarte label, the ''World Premier'' performance of this newly-restored Mass by the Huelgas Ensemble under Paul van Nevel. Read more There is an infectious warmth and sense of involvement in the singing of the Belgian group, due in part to their being placed close to the microphone, so that the listener himself feels drawn into sharing this involvement. In the case of The Tallis Scholars one can just sit back and listen objectively at a distance, as the music unfolds from the quiet opening of the Kyrie, through the splendours of the Gloria with its radiant alternation of low and high voices, through the cheerful triadic opening of the Credo, its variety of textures and the tremendous vigour of its finale, to the Sanctus with its quite delightful, almost celestial Benedictus.

The Tallis Scholars sing a semitone higher than the written pitch, which is that chosen by the Huelgas Ensemble. Van Nevel cultivates a rich reedy vocal quality and the lower pitch has the advantage of encouraging deeper and darker sonorities; though the sound is more opaque, lacking the clarity of The Tallis Scholars. Where the two choirs differ most, however, is in the last movement, the Agnus Dei. The Munich source, used by both choirs, is deficient at this point and some reconstruction is needed. Van Nevel has supplied an ingenious canonic solution to the first (and third) Agnus Dei, with its ''virtuosic and turbulent'' progression of mensural changes. He has, moreover, replaced the missing Agnus Dei II by a section from an independent Danish source, a section rejected by Peter Phillips and Francis Knights on the grounds that it was scored for six voices only and voices using different ranges from those in the rest of the Mass. The net result is that the two choirs present what amounts to two completely different final movements.

The inclusion by Phillips of Brumel's two wonderful deep-toned Good Friday Lamentations is greatly to be welcomed and the composer's solemn Mode II Magnificat setting was a brilliant choice with which to round off this fine recording.

-- Mary Berry, Gramophone [9/1992]
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Works on This Recording

Missa "Et ecce terrae motus" by Antoine Brumel
Conductor:  Peter Phillips
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Tallis Scholars
Period: Renaissance 
Written: France 
Language: Latin 

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