Hyperion Records

Spem in alium
composer
author of text
Respond for Sunday matins, History of Judith, cf Judith 8: 19, 6: 15

Recordings
'Renaissance Giants' (CDGIM207)
Renaissance Giants
Buy by post £11.75 CDGIM207  2CDs for the price of 1  
'Tallis: Spem in alium' (CDGIM006)
Tallis: Spem in alium
Buy by post £11.75 CDGIM006 
'Tallis: Spem in alium & other sacred music' (CKD233)
Tallis: Spem in alium & other sacred music
CKD233  Download only   Studio Master FLAC & ALAC downloads available
'Tallis: Spem in alium & other choral works' (CDA30024)
Tallis: Spem in alium & other choral works
Buy by post £8.50 CDA30024  Hyperion 30th Anniversary series  
'Tallis: The Tallis Scholars sing Thomas Tallis' (CDGIM203)
Tallis: The Tallis Scholars sing Thomas Tallis
Buy by post £11.75 CDGIM203  2CDs for the price of 1  
'Sacred Music in the Renaissance, Vol. 1' (GIMBX301)
Sacred Music in the Renaissance, Vol. 1
GIMBX301  Boxed set (at a special price) — Download only  
Details
Track 1 on CDGIM006 [9'53]
Track 1 on CDGIM207 CD1 [9'58] 2CDs for the price of 1
Track 1 on GIMBX301 CD2 [9'53] Boxed set (at a special price) — Download only
Track 11 on CDA30024 [11'04] Hyperion 30th Anniversary series

Spem in alium
EnglishFrançaisDeutsch
Thomas Tallis lived through some of the most stormy years of the sixteenth century. By the time of his death in 1585 he had been required to write music for Catholic rites under Henry VIII (1509–1547), for English vernacular services under Edward VI (1547–1553), for the reinstated Latin liturgy under Mary (1553–1558), and under Elizabeth I (1558–1603) both English and Latin works for her idiosyncratic approach to liturgical matters.

It was this very idiosyncracy which permitted musical experiment of a bold nature. Liturgical function in setting texts from the Catholic rite could be overlooked in the interests of through-composition, for example, or the Magnificat and Nunc dimittis for the reformed service of Evensong could actually be set in Latin. The renowned Spem in alium is a perfect example of the former technique, being liturgically a responsory from the Historia Iudith. The repeating structure of the responsory is entirely ignored, and no reference is made to its chant melody. What Tallis does is to use the text and make it into a through-composed motet, but a motet of an extraordinary kind. It is arguable that this piece in forty parts represents the epitome of choral writing in England in the sixteenth century (and not only the sixteenth): technically it is a balance between dense contrapuntal writing and homophonic declamation, exploiting every possible combination of effects available from the forty voice parts with dazzling virtuosity. It is, of course, also much more than that. It is, by turns, humble and proud, supplicatory and majestic, and always confident in its appeal to the Creator. The occasion for its composition has not been precisely identified. It may have been (among other possibilities) the fortieth birthday of either Queen Mary in 1556 or Queen Elizabeth in 1573; or possibly a piece to rival Alessandro Striggio’s own forty-part Ecce beatam lucem.

from notes by Ivan Moody © 1989

Track-specific metadata
Click track numbers opposite to select

Details for CDA66400 track 11
Artists
ISRC
GB-AJY-90-40011
Duration
11'04
Recording date
7 July 1989
Recording venue
Winchester Cathedral, United Kingdom
Recording producer
Mark Brown
Recording engineer
Antony Howell
Hyperion usage
  1. Tallis: Spem in alium & other choral works (CDA30024)
    Disc 1 Track 11
    Release date: October 2010
    Hyperion 30th Anniversary series
  2. Tallis: Spem in alium & other choral works (CDA66400)
    Disc 1 Track 11
    Release date: February 1990
    Deletion date: March 2014
    Superseded by CDA30024
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