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With this latest instalment of sacred music by Tallis, The Cardinall’s Musick start their 25th-anniversary year. The headlining event of this volume is the mass, Puer natus est, a work presumed to date from Queen Mary I’s brief reign and one in which we see Tallis using the older cantus firmus technique and conforming to an earlier English practice of not setting a Kyrie. For this recording, Sally Dunkley’s 1972 edition (made with David Wulstan) has been revised and the Credo omitted. On first listen, the density of rich lower-voice textures feels somewhat daunting both from the performance and from the composition, which is more in the vein of the oltremontani than Tallis or even the Eton choirbook. However, this mass is a delightful slow-burner. Listen for the fanfare-like ‘tu solus altissimus’ in which these singers hit a particularly fruity and sonorous stride that no other English group ever matches.

The programme ends with the monumental Videte miraculum, home turf for this ensemble. Sopranos Julie Cooper and Cecilia Osmond blend beautifully providing a serene gloss over a prominent alto-sound. This is The Cardinall’s Musick at their best: big architecture phrasing on which they unleash their famously impassioned performance style. In my opinion, when it’s this good then there will always be room for another disc of Tallis.

Edward Breen Read the full review on Agora Classica


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Early Music Today, 2014 - ©Rhinegold Publishing