Anthony Pryer
Early Music Review

The velvety tones of the Tenebrae Consort singing Sarum chant associated with Compline for Passiontide made me wonder just how this music actually sounded in the Middle Ages. There is no reason to suppose that our Medieval forebears had any other concept of vocal perfection than we have nowadays, and they would certainly have striven towards perfection in the music they were presenting before God. What they would have found odd is our use of liturgical plainchant as a sort of intellectual prozac, to lull our senses and help us relax. It is clear from Nigel Short's touchy-feely introduction to the CD that he is very much playing for this modern market—i.e. the Classic FM listener rather than the Early Music Review reader. This is echoed in the group's cv at the end of the booklet where, to help us enjoy their singing, they identify themselves as "an outstanding group of musicians"! However, this is a CD which covers all cases, and the informative notes by John Rowlands-Pritchard will satisfy the needs of the most demanding EMR reader, and the singing on the CD is very lovely indeed. I felt that the Tallis lingered just a little too indulgently at points—the big licks given to the initial letters were a bit much, if understandable—but then again the programme notes mentioned that while they were aware that the work was probably written for domestic performance, they were providing chant responds as if they were being sung liturgically.