Tallis: Instrumental Music & Songs

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LABELS: Signum
ALBUM TITLE: Complete Works, Vol. 9
WORKS: Instrumental Music & Songs
PERFORMER: Stephen Taylor (countertenor), Laurence Cummings (virginals), Andrew Benson-Wilson (organ); Charivari Agréable
This final volume in this splendid series of recordings comprises Tallis’s consort music, keyboard works, songs for choirboy plays and his various studies in counterpoint. Moreover, on a bonus disc we have some litany music (settings of prayers) that, for reasons of space, could not be included in Vol. 6, plus three organ works, all of them nicely played by Andrew Benson-Wilson on the wonderfully evocative instrument at Knole House near Sevenoaks in Kent. The consort music is presented in alert and assured style by the viol players of Charivari Agréable, and even in the rather odd Salvator mundi they do not quite lose their poise. The keyboard section begins, bizarrely, with a fiendishly difficult lute transcription of Felix namque II, rather than the keyboard version itself (heard in Volume 5). Such is Lynda Sayce’s struggle to overcome its difficulties that this fascinating work seems to emerge as music only fitfully and gradually. Laurence Cummings, by contrast, brings the sometimes pedestrian music wonderfully to life by his resourceful interpretations; his delicately textured account of the ‘study’ Per haec nos, his rhetorical presentation of Remember not and his narrative style in Like as the doleful dove are all exemplary. In the delightful songs that bring the disc to a close the long phrases sometimes defeat the breath control of the singer, but in the final track Byrd’s lament on Tallis’s death brings voice and viols together in transporting harmonies. Anthony Pryer