Monday, 28 March 2016
Tallis - Complete Works - Chapelle du Roi/Dixon
A superb set
This is a truly excellent set, and at a bargain price. I have loved Tallis's music for many years and have a lot of dearly loved recordings by The Tallis Scholars, Magnificat, the Hillard Ensemble and others which won't be superseded by this set, but are certainly beautifully complemented by it. The approach of Alistair Dixon and Chapelle du Roi is calm and restrained, and the music glows as a result. The singers are very good, tuning is virtually faultless and the absence or restrained use of vibrato ideal. The overall sound is very warm, by and large, emphasised by resonant acoustics in all the recording venues, and this eight-year project is a very fine achievement which does real justice to one of England's greatest composers.
The music itself is magnificent. Obviously, in any Complete Works there will be some pieces which are of less interest to individual listeners, and while I'm not over-keen to hear lengthy organ settings of Felix namque on a regular basis, there will be those who are. There is a wealth of magnificent music and, of course, there are little-recorded gems to discover among the better-known pieces. It's worth saying that Disc 9 - The Instrumental Music and Songs - was named by a reviewer on Radio 3's CD Review as an Essential Tallis disc. Quite right, too, in my view - the playing by Charivari Agréable is excellent and the counter-tenor Stephen Taylor is very good, too. The disc also includes `Ye sacred muses', Byrd's lament on Tallis's death, which is a real bonus.
Brilliant Classics make a pretty good job of the packaging. It's cardboard, but attractive and durable. All the original liner notes and texts are supplied on a CD-ROM as Adobe Acrobat files. It's good to have them, although one can't really sit down comfortably with the text in front of you as you could with a booklet. For so much superb music at such a price, though, this is a sacrifice well worth making - it's a fantastic set of wonderful music and very warmly recommended.