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Here, Peter Phillips tells the story of this peerless ensemble from undergraduates having fun to ‘a capella rock stars’. Covering a further ten years of The Tallis Scholars’ story, Peter Phillips’ new edition is more condensed, but no less fascinating.

First up is the story of The Tallis Scholars (TTS) and Gimell Records: Phillips’ frank account is a valuable cultural history covering a turbulent period for classical music. Revelations abound: for instance, it beggar’s belief that the BBC refused to broadcast TTS until a Gramophone Award threatened to expose the corporation’s outrageous cultural arbitration. Politics aside, I would have preferred a stronger editorial stance over internal machinations; despite conspicuous use of the first person, Phillips veers close to settling a few old scores, and since this is not a deathbed biography but rather (I hope) a mid- career musing, such charred bridges are surprising.

Phillips is best when discussing matters of taste and musical style. His determination to avoid problematising his performances with historical aesthetics is indeed laudable and I find his upfront subjective stance refreshing. Elsewhere, recollections of touring life, a glossary of singer’s terms and reprinted Spectator articles provide real enjoyment.

Edward Breen Read the full review on Agora Classica


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Early Music Today, 2013 - ©Rhinegold Publishing