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This clutch of new releases resembles a nest of curate’s eggs and one magnificent peacock. The Cardinall’s Musick have a fine crack at Tallis in Ave, rosa sine spinis with mainly consort performances, capturing the spirit of his pre- and post-reformation genius in an anthology of thoughtful, imaginative juxtapositions. Great clarity in cool acoustics emphasises the uncompromising manner of these highly accomplished vocalists, occasional harshness in the treble and a somewhat rough and ready male ensemble for the Mass for four voices notwithstanding, and their scholarly credentials always convince. They won plaudits for their Byrd disc Infelix ego (2010) Collegium Vocale Gent poaches on their territory with a disc of the same name, featuring the Mass for Five Voices and assorted motets, scrambling to make an implausible case for European influence on Byrd’s Masses in spite of his notable stylistic independence and originality. There’s beauty in their refined, gentle, smooth phrasing but it just doesn’t sound either completely comfortable or convincingly English. Note to Maestro Herreweghe: Byrd is not Lassus, nor ever shall be.

REBECCA TAVENER Read the full review on Agora Classica


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