Clare College Chapel Choir - From Tallis To Byrd

Friday 1st April 1994
Clare College Chapel Choir - From Tallis To Byrd

STYLE: Choral
RATING 5 5 5 5 5
LABEL: Impressions 701

Reviewed by John Irvine

Between the birth of Thomas Tallis in 1505 to the death of his friend and colleague William Byrd in 1623 lies a period of 118 years, a period of great political and religious change, and a period of great music - music not just by Tallis and Byrd, but also by their contemporaries John Sheppard, Robert Stone and John Mundy, amongst others. The music written by these men was to form the cornerstone of Anglican music for centuries to come, but the music by Tallis and especially Byrd was to prove an inspiration to Roman Catholics, who could only hold mass in secret for fear of persecution, imprisonment and death. These were indeed times of great turmoil. This collection, unusually, steers away from the large masses and motets associated with this period: all of the pieces are miniatures under five minutes each, written to be used in public worship as anthems, responses and hymns. As such, this disc provides both the flavour of Elizabethan worship and helps put the giants Tallis and Byrd into perspective by comparing them to their contemporaries. The voices in this recording are well balanced, with lovely spacious acoustics. Unfortunately, the pieces are performed in a rather bland manner, which fails to differentiate the finer points of distinction between the different composers. In the end it all sounds much of a muchness. Despite this, it is pleasant to listen to and could be a useful introduction to the religious music of this period.

The opinions expressed in this article are not necessarily those held by Cross Rhythms. Any expressed views were accurate at the time of publishing but may or may not reflect the views of the individuals concerned at a later date.

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