Tallis: Mass for Four Voices; Motets

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4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0

COMPOSERS: Tallis
LABELS: Naxos
WORKS: Mass for Four Voices; Motets
PERFORMER: Oxford Camerata/Jeremy Summerly
CATALOGUE NO: 8.550576 DDD
This disc is another success for Jeremy Summerly’s Oxford Camerata, but only just. One always hopes with budget recordings that the budget ethos is not carried through to the production values. Unfortunately, this doesn’t seem to be the case.

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Musically, this is an excellent collection of some of Tallis’s best-loved motets, rounded off by the Mass for Four Voices. From the joyful Loquebantur variis linguis to the calm and reserve of Salvator mundi and Te lucis ante terminum, we are treated to a wide range of examples from Tallis’s Latin church music. What puzzles me is why the disc was recorded in such a small, boxy acoustic. Perhaps it was a deliberate effort to represent Tallis’s music in a more ‘domestic’ setting, in contrast to the grand cathedral-like manner that is more common. Moreover, the small lapses in concentration that always happen in recording studios – slightly fluffed entries, momentary intonation difficulties – seem to have found their way on to the disc itself. I can’t imagine that, had more time been available, these slips wouldn’t have been covered.

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For this price, of course, the disc is still a bargain, and well worth hearing, but I hope the efforts of a group as musically mature and proficient as this are not being spoiled for the sake of a ha’p’orth or two of tar. Edward Kershaw