ALBUM TITLE: Collection: The Gentlemen of the Chapel Royal
WORKS: Works by Parsons, Weelkes, Byrd, Whyte, Tallis,
PERFORMER: The Gents/Peter Dijkstra; Diapente Viol Consort; Siebe Henstra (organ)
CATALOGUE NO: CCS 18998
The Gents – perhaps a slightly ill-advised name for British audiences – is a 14-strong all-male choir based in Holland which sings a wide variety of repertoire. Its model is the American ensemble Chanticleer and it cultivates a similarly intimate sound which, correct or not, well suits the Tudor repertoire, sacred and secular, on this disc. It’s a good mix of the familiar with the less well-known, and most is delivered at an aptly contemplative pace, with palpable feeling for those wide harmonic spaces and those lovely intertwining melodic arches. The sole – and inexplicable – exception is William Cornysh’s ‘Ave Maria, Mater Dei’, which The Gents despatch with an indecent haste that compromises its mellifluous beauties.
In Robert Whyte’s hymn ‘Christe, qui lux es et dies’ and two consort songs, John Bennet’s ‘Eliza, her name gives honour’ and Edward Johnson’s ‘Eliza is the fairest Queen’ – excellent countertenor soloists here – the Diapente Viol Consort enlarges the colour palette with beautifully poised playing. On its own it also contributes three pieces by Anthony Holborne. The Italian émigré Alfonso Ferrabosco I’s Lamentations of Jeremiah are here too, markedly darker yet less emotionally intense than Tallis’s setting. His son (Alfonso Ferrabosco II) shows himself to be as expressive and as harmonically adventurous as any English composer of the period, anticipating Purcell. And Robert Parsons’s ‘Credo quod redemptor’ and ‘Ave Maria’ live easily alongside two of Tallis’s most rich-textured works, ‘Salvator mundi’ and the miraculously convoluted canon ‘Miserere nostri’. Stephen Pettitt