White & Tallis, Palestrina, Lassus, de Brito

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COMPOSERS: de Brito,Lassus,Palestrina,White & Tallis
ALBUM TITLE: Collection: Lamentations
WORKS: Lamentations; Lesson I for Maundy Thursday; Lessons I and III for Maundy Thursday; Lesson I for Good Friday
PERFORMER: Oxford Camerata/Jeremy Summerly
Verses from Jeremiah were used as part of the liturgy in Holy Week, inspiring some of the most sombre and emotive of Renaissance church music across Europe and across the religious divide of the Reformation. This collection of Lamentations from the Oxford Camerata under the direction of Jeremy Summerly goes some way to illustrate the extent and variety of the extraordinary flowering of polyphony in the 16th and early 17th centuries.


In England, composers were free from the strict precepts against elaboration laid down by the Council of Trent, resulting in bold harmonic experimentation and sensitivity with the Latin text, shown here in Robert White’s expansive music and more famously in Thomas Tallis’s two great settings.

These are contrasted with their two prodigious continental contemporaries, Palestrina and the Flemish Lassus, as well as with the work of the rarely heard 17th-century Portuguese composer Estevao de Brito, whose setting is stark and lucid.


The Oxford Camerata sing with great clarity, although the recording occasionally seems too close and dense, and the group may sometimes lack the assurance in pitching and dynamic sensitivity shown, for example, by die Tallis Scholars. Nevertheless, Jeremy Summerly is to be commended for this interesting collection. William Humphreys-Jones