Oxford Camerata, Jeremy Summerly - Thomas Tallis: Spem in Alium; Missa Salve intemerata (2005)

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Oxford Camerata, Jeremy Summerly - Thomas Tallis: Spem in Alium; Missa Salve intemerata (2005)

Thomas Tallis - Spem in Alium; Missa Salve intemerata (2005)
Oxford Camerata, conducted by Jeremy Summerly

EAC | FLAC | Image (Cue&Log) ~ 300 Mb | Mp3 (CBR320) ~ 183 Mb | Scans included
Classical, Choral, Sacred | Label: Naxos | # 8.557770 | Time: 01:17:17

To mark the 500th anniversary of the birth of Tallis, here are his biggest and best church compositions, performed in its customary high style by the Oxford Camerata under Jeremy Summerly (whose Fauré Requiem remains one of Naxos's all-time bestsellers). Tallis's youthful motet Salve intemerata is among the longest single-movement works of the 16th century, but it is Spem in alium, a work of Tallis's maturity, that overshadows any other English piece of the period, including those of his great contemporary, William Byrd. Scored for 40 independent voices, it is symphonic in proportion and resplendent in this surround-sound version.

Review by Anthony Holden, The Guardian

From time to time a disc comes across the desk that is so superior that you have to fish for criticisms. As I believe that a healthy balance of praise and constructive critique is a good thing, and lends more to the credibility of the writer, I never hesitate to make suggestions for improvement, even on the finest of recordings. Such is the case with this performance of music by the English master, Thomas Tallis. There is indeed little to call down here, and the negative comments that I do have about it are more the fault of the compositional style and the recording venue’s acoustics than any error on the part of ensemble or conductor.

Tallis served four British monarchs in his remarkable career, remarkable as much for what we do not know about it as for what we do. Actually, quite little is known about his life except that he was quite well known and respected from an early age and that he along with his student William Byrd, held an exclusive right to publish music in England under Elizabeth I and thus became financially as well as artistically secure.

His masterpiece is certainly the forty-voice Spem in alium. Written for eight five-voice choirs it is also a clever puzzle, with the composer’s name embedded in its compositional structure. Summerly’s Oxford Camerata is the perfect ensemble for this piece, singing with unusual clarity and spotless intonation. Often this work becomes a muddled wash of sound, but not so in this case. There are actually moments when one can pick out a phrase or two of text in the massive sound palette.

The motet Salve intemerata although beautifully sung is not as successful as the mass which parodies it later in the disc. In short, it is a bit long! And even the best of note-spinners can get spun out when the length of the text outweighs the cleverness of the ideas. The mass however, is astounding and if you buy this disc for nothing other than that, you will have gotten double your money’s worth. Missing a Kyrie, and a tenor part (skillfully reconstructed here), this is one of the most stunning mass settings ever to fall upon these jaded ears.

And, it is beautifully sung. Crystalline tone, superior enunciation and clarity of line make this one of the most memorable performances of a mass ordinary that I have ever heard.

The program is rounded out by a handful of English motets, hampered slightly by the basic unintelligibility of the texts. These are church anthems, meant to carry a message, and said message is lost when you cannot understand the words. Once in a while a phrase comes through, but more attention to this detail is wanting. With the echoing acoustic much text gets lost, so perhaps different microphone placement would have been a good solution.

This is a complete winner, even with my few little nit-pickings. Buy it soon; it is a spiritual experience.

Review by Kevin Sutton,

Thomas Tallis was a composer who inclined toward musical extremes – or sometimes was pushed toward them. The opening title track of this CD, Spem in alium, is a 40-voice motet for eight five-voice choirs. There's nothing like it in the Renaissance repertory except for an Italian piece to which it was written in answer, as a response to a challenge. A major achievement of Tallis' old age, it is balanced on this recording by an enormous (23-minute) motet, Salve intemerata, by the young Tallis, as well as a later Missa salve intemerata that uses the Renaissance parody technique (a sort of musical paraphrase) as a form of musical self-critique; the material from the motet is gracefully compressed.

When religious winds shifted and Tallis needed to write minimal Anglican music in English, he did that, too. But this beautiful recording by the Oxford Camerata does not include any of Tallis' very simple Anglican pieces, such as the familiar If Ye Love Me. Instead, the three English pieces that close out the disc are all associated in some way with Latin-language Tallis compositions, and they thus occupy an interesting middle ground between the Catholic and Anglican phases of Tallis' career.

For those interested primarily in Spem in alium, this recording makes an excellent choice; director Jeremy Summerly achieves just the right degree of transparency to bring out the incredible richness of contrapuntal detail in a work that too often sounds unwieldy. The sometimes sonically challenged Naxos label has done a superb job this time out. An available SACD disc should be worth the money for those who have good equipment; it should bring out yet more detail that Summerly has aimed at through innovative singer placement. Listeners interested in what a profound masterwork like Spem in alium might reveal about its composer as a younger man – in the expansive side of Tallis' musical personality – will find an intelligently chosen program here. And any buyer will get a gorgeous hour of English Renaissance choral singing.

Review by James Manheim,

Oxford Camerata, Jeremy Summerly - Thomas Tallis: Spem in Alium; Missa Salve intemerata (2005)

Oxford Camerata/Jeremy Summerly
Recorded at All Hallows, Gospel Oak,
London from 21-23 January 2005.


01. Spem in alium (40-voice Motet) (12:20)

02. Salve intemerata (Motet) (23:10)

Missa Salve intemerata
03. Gloria (6:37)
04. Credo (7:55)
05. Sanctus (7:47)
06. Agnus Dei (5:31)

07. With all our heart (3:12)

08. Discomfort them, O Lord (6:37)

09. I call and cry to thee, O Lord (4:09)

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Oxford Camerata, Jeremy Summerly / Spem in alium

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foobar2000 1.2 / Dynamic Range Meter 1.1.1
log date: 2017-05-22 22:27:58

Analyzed: Oxford Camerata, Jeremy Summerly / Thomas Tallis - Spem in alium; Missa Salve intemerata

DR Peak RMS Duration Track
DR13 -1.54 dB -20.02 dB 12:20 01-Spem in alium (40-voice Motet)
DR15 -1.58 dB -22.63 dB 23:10 02-Salve intemerata (Motet)
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DR11 -4.92 dB -22.75 dB 4:09 09-I call and cry to thee, O Lord

Number of tracks: 9
Official DR value: DR13

Samplerate: 44100 Hz
Channels: 2
Bits per sample: 16
Bitrate: 531 kbps
Codec: FLAC

Oxford Camerata, Jeremy Summerly - Thomas Tallis: Spem in Alium; Missa Salve intemerata (2005)

All thanks to original releaser - Dementio81

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