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TALLIS: Puer natus est nobis; Missa Puer natus est nobis; Salvator mundi, Domine; Quod chorus vatum; Benedictus; Magnificat a 4; Audivi vocem de caelo; Videte miraculum – The Cardinall’s Musick/ Andrew Carwood – Hyperion

TALLIS: Puer natus est nobis; Missa Puer natus est nobis; Salvator mundi, Domine; Quod chorus vatum; Benedictus; Magnificat a 4; Audivi vocem de caelo; Videte miraculum – The Cardinall’s Musick/ Andrew Carwood – Hyperion CDA68026, 67:39 [Distr. by Harmonia mundi] ****:

Thomas Tallis was one of the composers extremely sympathetic to recusant Catholicism in England, yet was forced to dance the jig that traverses sectarian lines due to the Ping-Pong elements of political fortunes that favored Rome, then the Reformation, then back and forth again. In this case, the genesis of the unbelievable seven-part mass Puer natue est nobis (Unto us a boy is born) had to be the reign of Queen “Bloody” Mary, a woman who reverted all of the British Isles back to the Catholic Church, yet provided a great deal of hope and opportunity for many—some say most—of the greatest composers native to those lands at the time. Tallis is certainly to rank with the very best, and this mass, based not on the divine office but rather from a chant taken from one of the Propers of the Nativity season, is superb. It was most likely done for one of Mary’s Christmases and easily ranks with his greatest works.

The other pieces on this disc are all sung very well by the well-known Cardinall’s Musick, a group that started out with award-winning discs on ASV and now records for Hyperion. Particularly noteworthy is a very early piece, the Latin Magnificat, but yet clearly shows the genius that was to come. One of his most popular pieces, the Videte miraculum, is given here in a manner faithful to the text and technically controlled, but lacks the ecstatic mannerisms found in the 1993 Volume One of the Sixteen’s two-disc Tallis survey on the EMI Reflexe label. Nonetheless there is a lot to enjoy here, a fine addition to their ongoing Tallis series.

—Steven Ritter

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