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Isaac: Missa De Apostolis, Motets /Phillips, Tallis Scholars


Release Date: 03/12/2002 
Label:  Gimell   Catalog #: 23   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Heinrich Isaac
Conductor:  Peter Phillips
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Tallis Scholars
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 1 Hours 15 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

The Tallis Scholars' latest recording presents a Mass-setting and a handful of carefully-chosen motets by Heinrich Isaac, a composer, as Peter Phillips says in his accompanying note, who "has much to prove to modern audiences". Perhaps one reason why Isaac's music has remained in relative obscurity up till now is that so much of it, as on this recording, contrasts short sections of polyphony with chant. Phillips has always eschewed liturgical reconstructions in his recordings and performances, but it is perhaps these that have helped to make chant more accessible and meaningful for the modern listener who had become used to hearing only the polyphonic sections of Mass-settings by Renaissance composers. The small amount of chant Read more built into Isaac's setting of the five movements of the Ordinary of the Mass will therefore hold no terrors now and, indeed, add to rather than detract from the broad sweep of his conception.

Allied to this goes perhaps another reason why his prolific output has been so neglected: a reliance on sonority rather than contrapuntal ingenuity for effect. This can mean that on the page the music appears less interesting than it is when realized in sound. In fact, here Isaac's attempt at ingenuity of musical and textual reference in the occasional motet °prime pastor falls rather flat, while the seemingly less interesting polyphonic sections of the Missa de Apostolis come to life in brief moments of sublimely sonorous music enhanced by shimmering performances from The Tallis Scholars. Their sustained singing style (which has developed over the years into something much more direct and full-blooded) is most telling in the lusciously intimate Song of Songs motet Tota pulchat es in which a characteristic feature of Isaac's style—one voice moving more quickly than the rest—is exploited to great effect at the words "Flores apparuerunt". Isaac, however, displays a wide range of styles, the extended duet textures of the marvellous six-voice motet Virgo prudentissima coming much closer to the flowing counterpoint of Josquin, and a feel for dramatic articulation of structure is apparent in the climax of this piece built on the interval of a fifth (a musical pun on the words "ut son and the resounding rests surrounding the words "amica mea" in Tota pulchra es.

Plenty of inspired music here, then, and given the committed and often inspiring performances we have come to expect from The Tallis Scholars.

-- Gramophone [10/1991]
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Works on This Recording

1.
Missa de apostolis by Heinrich Isaac
Conductor:  Peter Phillips
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Tallis Scholars
Period: Renaissance 
Written: Germany 
Language: Latin 
2.
Optime pastor by Heinrich Isaac
Conductor:  Peter Phillips
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Tallis Scholars
Period: Renaissance 
Language: Latin 
3.
Tota pulchra es by Heinrich Isaac
Conductor:  Peter Phillips
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Tallis Scholars
Period: Renaissance 
Language: Latin 
4.
Regina caeli laetare by Heinrich Isaac
Conductor:  Peter Phillips
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Tallis Scholars
Period: Renaissance 
Language: Latin 
5.
Resurrexi et adhuc tecum sum by Heinrich Isaac
Conductor:  Peter Phillips
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Tallis Scholars
Period: Renaissance 
Language: Latin 
6.
Virgo prudentissima by Heinrich Isaac
Conductor:  Peter Phillips
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Tallis Scholars
Period: Renaissance 
Language: Latin 

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