The Cardinall's Musick is vastly experienced in English repertory of the sixteenth century, and this is its fourth disc devoted entirely to Thomas Tallis. With the inclusion of his Mass for four voices they have also completed their survey of his surviving masses. Other delights on the disc include his setting of Why Fum'th in Fight from Archbishop Parker's Psalter of 1567—perhaps better known as the tune used in Vaughan Williams's Fantasia on a Theme of Thomas Tallis—and the wonderful Ave, rosa sine spinis with its missing sections in the cantus part admirably reconstructed here by Nick Sandon.
This last piece really brings out the best in the choir, which shows an intelligent sense of direction and a liveliness of execution. The duets in this work are managed very nicely, too, though the bass part at some points (eg the beginning of verse five) lacks pliability. Elsewhere there is some quite spectacular singing: for example in the cantus line of Euge caeli porta, and in the touching, quiet solemnity of the close of Miserere Nostri. However, the generally rather brisk approach tends to neutralise the potentially very expressive false relations in the harmony (for instance, in Wipe away my sins). As for the four-voiced Mass, this is an unassuming work that risks becoming firmly prosaic, and perhaps the recording by Jeremy Summerly and the Oxford Camerata (on Naxos) does most to overcome its dangers. Even so, this present disc is no mean advocate for Tallis's musical imagination.