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ALLEGRI. Miserere. Tallis Scholars

P-Tallis Scholars Phillips Audio CD
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
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Here's a wonderful introduction to Renaissance choral music, with two tried-and-true repertory standards and the Mundy, a gorgeously sensuous example of a lesser-known mid-16th-century work, whose complex polyphonic strands are rendered with compelling involvement by the Tallis Scholars. These performances were among the group's earliest recordings and helped catapult them into the forefront of specialists in this demanding repertoire. The Allegri became a favorite back in the 1970s, a sort of choral equivalent of Albinoni's Adagio, in which repetition serves as the driving force. The Tallis Scholars give it welcome variety through spatial placement in a large church and their colorful singing. Palestrina's Missa Papae Marcelli is one of that great composer's finest works. Its mastery of polyphony while clarifying the text is said to have convinced the Church to withhold its impending ban on polyphonic church music. The group sounds larger than its 21 members because of the acoustics, the clear diction of the Scholars, and the power of their singing, always transparent and involved. They use female sopranos instead of boys' voices, so there's more heft and color than we often hear from early-music groups. Vivid engineering makes the CD even more attractive. --Dan Davis

Product Description

Gregorio Allegri : Miserere - William Mundy : Vox Patris caelestis - Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina : Missa Papae Marcelli / The Tallis Scholars, dir. Peter Phillips

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5.0 out of 5 stars Stunning July 23 2003
By FrKurt Messick HALL OF FAME TOP 500 REVIEWER
Format:Audio CD
--Allegri's Miserere--
Part of the power of the Miserere lies in its basic simplicity, which is one of the fundamental building blocks of spirituality. Indeed, legend has it that the Pope once decreed that it could only be performed at the Vatican, and only under conditions of special care due to its spiritual power. Legend continues that this monopoly was broken when Mozart (as a child) heard the piece and, from one hearing only, transcribed the music into print form and distributed it from there. Perhaps this is an embellishment, but it is a romantic story befitting the piece. The Miserere is based on Psalm 51 (Allegri's setting is but one of many), the great penitential psalm of the Lenten season. This sombre and searching spirituality permeates the music from start to finish. The high piercing notes recalling the piercing guilt and the pierced Christ cry over the mixture of voices that produce a most exquisite grumble of humanity in search of God.
--Palestrina's Missa Papae Marcelli-
Written at least a generation prior to Allegri's Miserere, Palestrina's Mass for Pope Marcellus II is likewise a composition in search of the absolute and absolving God. Reacting to an overly ornate liturgy of the Roman Catholic church in the face of popular and growing Reformation types, Palestrina became a great champion for music that preserved both the grandeur of the liturgy as well as the accessibility of the message and language for the people. The lower vocals make the Mass a part of the people, rather than existing on high, inaccessible.
--William Mundy's Vox Patris caelestis-
Mundy's work is roughly contemporary with that of Palestrina (mid to late 1500s).
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5.0 out of 5 stars "It all begins..." April 13 2001
Format:Audio CD
I'm quite sure there must be many people like me,who early on in their record collecting career,heard a brief excerpt of Allegri's "Miserere" over the radio perhaps,or on a film soundtrack,and exclaimed: "What is that !" and "why don't I own something that beautiful ?"; "Take me to it at once !!".In my case I rushed out to my local record shop (after carefully consulting my "bible" i.e "The Penguin Guide to Classical CDs") and was fortunate enough to find this lovely Tallis Scholars recording just waiting there for me.Now,there are some excellent "Misereres" available elsewhere,with brilliant boy soloists soaring magically up to those spine-tingling high Cs,but this recording is something apart and special.For a start,it is a girl (the excellent Alison Stamp) who has the solo limelight,and also Peter Philips,the director,had the brilliant notion of seperating the solo group of the choir,and placing them at the far end of Merton College Chapel.Not only does this fully exploit the fantastic acoustics of the building,but it creates the marvellous effect of making the piece come across almost as a dialogue between Heaven and Earth.It's a truly otherworldly listening experience,and should not be missed by anyone who claims to love music.
William Mundy's "Vox Patris Caelestis" (The Voice of the heavenly Father) is a celebration of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary,and borrows heavily from the Song of Solomon.Perhaps at first you might think it doesn't quite have the appeal of the other two items on this disc,but it does repay repeated listening,and with the barely reined in passion of it's final verse provides a most satisfying sonic bridge between the more subdued beauties of the other masterworks.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Mundy and Palestrina Aug. 9 2001
By Brendan
Format:Audio CD
Before buying this recording, I had heard much about Allegri's famous Miserere, but never listened to the entire piece. I admit that I still don't know why it's so famous, but I assume that it has more to do with the heavily embellished performances in the Sistine Chapel than with the music, which has virtually no substance. Put another way, if Mozart had lived during the Rennaissance, this would be the kind of piece he would have written at the age of five--pretty, repetetive, formulaic, with virtually static harmony and plain melody, repeated note for note no less than five times. Although the Tallis Scholarrs' shear beauty of sound and treatment of acoustic are mesmerizing in themselves, the piece doesn't stand up to repeated listenings, at least to my ears.
But no matter; the rest of the CD is more than worth its price. The tempi in the Palestrina Mass are often on the slow side, which took me a while to get used to--moments like "et resurexit" didn't come accross as exultantly as one might expect--but after several listenings I came to realize that as an overall approach it works perfectly, and every strand of polyphony is clearly audible. The total effect is one of radiant spiritual calm and beauty. Listening to Palestrina requires putting aside the expectations acquired from four centuries of later music and becoming receptive to the extraordinarily subtle, masterly way he responds to the text. It is truly a masterpiece of the sixteenth century, and here beautifully performed.
For me, though, the high point of the recording was the almost totally unknown Vox Patris Caelestis.
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Amazon.com: 4.9 out of 5 stars  34 reviews
89 of 89 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "It all begins..." April 13 2001
By "quia-nihil-sum" - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD
I'm quite sure there must be many people like me,who early on in their record collecting career,heard a brief excerpt of Allegri's "Miserere" over the radio perhaps,or on a film soundtrack,and exclaimed: "What is that !" and "why don't I own something that beautiful ?"; "Take me to it at once !!".In my case I rushed out to my local record shop (after carefully consulting my "bible" i.e "The Penguin Guide to Classical CDs") and was fortunate enough to find this lovely Tallis Scholars recording just waiting there for me.Now,there are some excellent "Misereres" available elsewhere,with brilliant boy soloists soaring magically up to those spine-tingling high Cs,but this recording is something apart and special.For a start,it is a girl (the excellent Alison Stamp) who has the solo limelight,and also Peter Philips,the director,had the brilliant notion of seperating the solo group of the choir,and placing them at the far end of Merton College Chapel.Not only does this fully exploit the fantastic acoustics of the building,but it creates the marvellous effect of making the piece come across almost as a dialogue between Heaven and Earth.It's a truly otherworldly listening experience,and should not be missed by anyone who claims to love music.
William Mundy's "Vox Patris Caelestis" (The Voice of the heavenly Father) is a celebration of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary,and borrows heavily from the Song of Solomon.Perhaps at first you might think it doesn't quite have the appeal of the other two items on this disc,but it does repay repeated listening,and with the barely reined in passion of it's final verse provides a most satisfying sonic bridge between the more subdued beauties of the other masterworks.
The well considered interval of silence after the impressive "Amen" of "Vox Patris..." only serves to heighten the eager anticipation you should rightly feel before the commencement of Palestrina's outstandingly beautiful "Missa Papae Marcelli".I won't burden you now with an Academic dissertation (I'm ill-qualified to do so anyway) on it's genesis and provenance.Instead I'll just baldly (and boldly) state that if you are entirely new to polyphonic settings of the Mass,then this is the loveliest launchpad possible for you to soar Heavenwards on a fantastic voyage of discovery.From it's oh,so sublime "Kyrie",to the absolute raptures of it's "Sanctus" and two part "Agnus Dei",it reminds me of nothing so much as a glorious musical galleon sailing across a barely ruffled ocean towards a blissful horizon of peace via the concluding "dona nobis pacem".Quite,quite astonishing that such paradisiacal sounds can be produced by such a small group of men and women -- and not an instument (apart from their vocal cords) to be seen !
So,waste not a second more of your life,if you have any regard at all for your harmonic health,in snapping up this wonderful CD.Your personal countdown has started;so step aboard,join me,and we'll ply the seraphic seas of polyphony together.
35 of 35 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Stunning July 23 2003
By FrKurt Messick - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD
--Allegri's Miserere--
Part of the power of the Miserere lies in its basic simplicity, which is one of the fundamental building blocks of spirituality. Indeed, legend has it that the Pope once decreed that it could only be performed at the Vatican, and only under conditions of special care due to its spiritual power. Legend continues that this monopoly was broken when Mozart (as a child) heard the piece and, from one hearing only, transcribed the music into print form and distributed it from there. Perhaps this is an embellishment, but it is a romantic story befitting the piece. The Miserere is based on Psalm 51 (Allegri's setting is but one of many), the great penitential psalm of the Lenten season. This sombre and searching spirituality permeates the music from start to finish. The high piercing notes recalling the piercing guilt and the pierced Christ cry over the mixture of voices that produce a most exquisite grumble of humanity in search of God.
--Palestrina's Missa Papae Marcelli-
Written at least a generation prior to Allegri's Miserere, Palestrina's Mass for Pope Marcellus II is likewise a composition in search of the absolute and absolving God. Reacting to an overly ornate liturgy of the Roman Catholic church in the face of popular and growing Reformation types, Palestrina became a great champion for music that preserved both the grandeur of the liturgy as well as the accessibility of the message and language for the people. The lower vocals make the Mass a part of the people, rather than existing on high, inaccessible.
--William Mundy's Vox Patris caelestis-
Mundy's work is roughly contemporary with that of Palestrina (mid to late 1500s). The Vox Patris caelestis (the voice of the heavenly Father) is a decidedly Catholic English composition, which places it during the reign of Mary. Mundy was in many ways opposite from Palestrina - clarity of words and simplicity of music were secondary concerns, if concerns at all.
All of these pieces are glorious polyphonic compositions of extraordinary power and grace. Taken as a set, they make a wonderful snapshot of Roman Catholic/high Anglican sensibility from the time of religious upheaval due to the Reformation.
--The Tallis Scholars-
The Tallis Scholars are a group dedicated to the performance and preservation of the best of this type of music. A choral group of exceptional ability, I have been privileged to see them many times in public, and at almost every performance, the Miserere by Allegri is expected and delivered with near-flawless grace. Directed by Peter Phillips, the group consists of a small number of male and female singers who have trained themselves well to their task.
This recording deserves more than five stars; it deserves a place on the shelf of anyone who loves choral music, liturgical music or Gregorian chant, classical music generally, or religious music. When listening, fair warning: prepare to be moved.
17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars a voice teacher and early music fan Feb. 3 2006
By George Peabody - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD
THIS REISSUE AT HALF PRICE TOUCHES OUR VERY SOUL WITH ITS INCREDIBLE BEAUTY!

This recording by the Tallis Scholars under the direction of Peter Phillips is considered by many to be the finest performance of Allegri's "Miserere". This composition is quite simple in construction and much of it's impact relies on the conditions of performance, especially on the acoustic. And so the Tallis Scholars have used a reverberant building. It was recorded in Merton College Chapel,Oxford, and sets new standards for recording unaccompanied sacred music.

I would be remiss if I did not mention the wonderful moments created by the solo group in 'Miserere':Allison Stamp(treble), Jane Armstrong, Michael Chance, and Julian Walker. The sound of these voices raises one to the heights and projects such exquisite beauty. Allison Stamp's highest note as the melody peaks is uncanningly beautiful!

Palestrina's "Missa Papae Marcelli" has five movements. The richness of his music comes from the predominant use of lower voices- two tenors and two basses-with one countertenor and one treble. It was this glorious 'Marcellus Mass' that so impressed the Council of Trent (convened to purify the church service) in 1564, that they left Palestrina's music untouched.

William Mundy's "Vox Patris caelstis" (the voice of the Heavenly Father)was written during Queen Mary's reign (1553-1558) and is contemporary with Palestrina's work. Mundy composed on an enormous scale, the audibllity of the words being secondary to the expansion of the melodies, though he clearly appreciated the sensual connotation of the text, which is adapted from the 'Song of Solomon', as in, for instance, the repetitions of the word 'Veni'. I found this selection to be riveting in its glory. It begins with Jane Armstrong(mean) and Michael Chance countertenor first singing alone and then together; such celestial music (Song of Solomon); thus its heavenly harmonies.

There is much to enjoy on this disc for the early music lover. Of course, one need only see the name "Tallis Scholars", and we know that we will hear the best in tone production, balance, phrasing, diction and appropriate emotion as the music indicates. Listening to this disc is the greatest musical experience not to be matched by any other. This reissue is half the price of the l981 issue. And remember 'A thing of beauty is a joy forever'.(Keats -maybe?)
17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Ertherial Music Nov. 9 2006
By Pam Garden - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD
Unlike other reviewers of the Miserere on this site, I have neither the credentials nor the eloquence to prove why you should purchase this recording for your collection. I can only say that you will be thrilled by the beauty and depth of the music. When I've been stressed out, I have only to listen for a few moments before I begin to feel my breathing slow and my shoulders relax. I've had this music playing quietly in the background along with other selections of jazz and/or new age during an evening, and invariably a guest who hasn't heard it will lift their head and turn their ear toward the music. I've even had friends ask me to get the CD cover so they can take down the information. Listen to some of the sample strings on this site and you will want to hear the Miserere in its entirety.
8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Startlingly familiar music Nov. 13 2006
By Martin Hanson - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD
This is haunting music that most people may not remember specifically but when they hear it again will recall it immediately. Mozart as a child was instantly in awe of this music. He tried to get his hands on the score but it was hidden away as a secret. So Mozart listened and copied. That is how this music first became public. It is not often heard today but if and when you hear it you will be struck as if by lightning. This recording is clear as a bell. The Tallis Scholars are an amazing group. I saw them live in 2006 and note that this recording was made in 1980. Both the recording and their live performance demonstrate amazing scholarship and attention to detail both in performance practice and acoustics.
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