Tuesday, 22 December 2015

Taverner - Missa Corona spinea - The Tallis Scholars

Rating: 5/5


Even by The Tallis Scholars' stellar standards, this is quite outstanding.  It is a disc of extraordinarily beautiful and powerful music, sung to perfection, I think.

Taverner here epitomises the music of the early 16th Century in England, with the two distinctive elements of fabulous sonorities and soaring treble lines, and he does it with immense skill.  The result is music of exceptional spiritual depth and often simply spine-tingling loveliness.  It is varied in mood from the piercingly joyful to the quietly contemplative, and all of it is just wonderful.

I have loved this mass for over 20 years in a performance by The Sixteen, but I have to say that this is even better.  The Tallis Scholars are a magnificent ensemble of virtuoso singers with impeccable technique and a wonderful sense of engagement with the text.  There is a lovely balance of voices and a superb fluency and distinctness of line while preserving a beautiful blend and wholeness of sound.  The Tallis Scholars always sing at quite a high pitch which here makes the already difficult treble lines extremely demanding, but the sopranos (the excellent Janet Coxwell and Amy Haworth) make it all seem completely natural and unforced.  The effect is stunning in places with an aetherial, heavenly sound which moves me every time.  This, combined with the beautiful, sonorous lower parts makes for something really special.

The recorded sound is, as always with Gimmell, superb, Peter Phillips's notes are full and interesting and the presentation is very attractive.  This is without question one of my Discs Of 2015 and I cannot recommend it too highly.

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