WORKS: Andreas Christi famulus
PERFORMER: Tallis Scholars/Peter Phillips
CATALOGUE NO: CDGIM 033
The Tallis Scholars have an unmistakably distinctive sound quality. They sing two-to-a-part, potentially fraught with tuning problems but, from them, well-nigh impeccable. As the voices come to rest at cadences, they set up a depth of sonority which is spine-chilling. The motet ‘Si bona suscepimus’ by Philippe Verdelot which opens this disc is counterpoint at its most pure – sustained lines, totally unfussy, bleak, reflecting the text from Job at his most comfortless.
The Mass is a ‘parody’. Verdelot’s motet provides the melodic outlines and the broad structure, which Morales then enriches from five parts to six, stretching and compressing phrases, fitting the lines to new words. His additional voice is a second soprano which literally lifts the spirit of despair in the model to one matching the praise of the Gloria, the confident assertion of the Credo with a powerful ‘Amen’. Phillips creates broad structures: dynamics build up over long spans of time, tidal waves of sound carrying the listener on their unbroken crests. A bonus is an eight-part motet by Crecquillon, the additional two parts creating a deep, enveloping richness.
Complemented by fine sound – clear without oppressive closeness, spacious yet unclouded by reverberation – this a recording to treasure. George Pratt