For eight years now the Chapelle du Roi has been working its way through Tallis's music, and has now reached those works composed for the reformed services in the English language, as set out in The Booke of Common Prayer from 1549.
Many of these compositions are simple and functional, but that does not mean that they lack charm or an individual voice. The psalm settings from Archbishop Parker's Psalter, in particular, are very sweetly performed, with each representing a different mood, often in interesting ways; Expend O Lord, for example, is full of weeping, but constantly in the major key. Some of the more ambitious items show the performers in a less favourable light. In the case of the Nunc dimittis from Evensong the exposed voices are just slightly out of tune with each other and not quite balanced, a fault that recurs at various points in this recording. Some of the items seem to move beyond churchly constraints: the lilting rhythms of O Lord in Thee are delightfully done—though I did wonder why there was no overt attempt at sixteenth-century pronunciation here and elsewhere, particularly since we get occasional High Church affectations such as 'invocacyion' and 'lamentacyion'.