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David Skinner and Alamire complete their trilogy of discs of music associated with Henry VIII’s wives with this all-Tallis offering. The repertoire is all glorious, of course, but three items are the cornerstones of the disc: the opening Gaude gloriosa Dei mater; the closing Se lord and behold (a contrafactum setting of the former to words – paraphrasing the angriest words of the psalmist, in the vernacular, for the purposes of rousing the populace into support for Henry’s war effort – settled by Skinner to have been by Katherine Parr) and the Litany in Archbishop Cranmer’s 1544 translation, published as a companion piece, in a setting previously attributed to Parsons. Katherine’s text runs to 466 words, whereas as the anonymous Gaude gloriosa text has only 157. The upshot of this is that the contrafactum, its extended melismas replaced by a far more syllabic setting, becomes much pacier in its narrative of fury and vitriol. Alamire’s low pitch (down a semitone from written pitch for Gaude gloriosa) aids and abets the singers in conjuring their trademark distinctive, warm, comfortable, sound-world. Indeed, so consistently luxuriant is the sound that I half felt that the opportunities for colourful word-painting provided by the ferocious texts of Se lord and behold might have been more terrifyingly taken up, but there are some impressive walls of sound: ‘And there be none to deliuer me from them’ is one notable such moment. Magisterial and beautiful.

Catherine Groom Read the full review on Agora Classica

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Early Music Today, 2017 - ©Rhinegold Publishing