Allegri, Palestrina

COMPOSERS: Allegri,Palestrina
LABELS: Gimell
ALBUM TITLE: Allegri , Palestrina
WORKS: Tu es Petrus Miserere (two versions); Stabat mater; Missa Papae Marcelli; Tu es Petrus
PERFORMER: Tallis Scholars/Peter Phillips
The Tallis Scholars have already made two separate, highly acclaimed recordings of this same programme. So why this third version? It seems that Phillips wanted to return to Merton College Chapel, Oxford where his group first recorded these works in 1980 (CDGIMSE 401). Certainly this decision gives us an unusually clear basis for comparison across the years, and one that is all to the benefit of the new production. Having thoroughly internalised this music, Phillips creates a reading of great authority. Interpretative strategies tentatively floated in 1980 are now triumphantly realised, notably the use of contrasting moods to mark sections within movements, the elegant dovetailing of cadences, and the animation of individual words through dynamics. Elsewhere he abandons old approaches for new, particularly in the Miserere where, by removing the metric pulse, he allows individual voices to emerge from the homophony. Another version of the Miserere featuring improvisations by soprano Deborah Roberts that concludes this disc re-emphasises the solo over the choral singer. The greatest contrast between the two Merton College recordings, however, is the choir’s sound: this now commands a rich range of colours and textures, captured by superior sound engineering. The acoustic at Merton plays to these strengths with a combination of reverberation and precision missing from the Scholars’ 1994 live recording in Rome (GIMLD 994). Berta Joncus