Diane Wells
The Whole Note, Canada
November 2015

Phillips has chosen to celebrate the Tallis Scholars by compiling his favourite recordings from 40 years of their stellar performances of Renaissance polyphony. Appropriately, the disc begins with Palestrina's Missa Papae Marcelli, which also happens to be the very first piece the group ever recorded, and is followed by a lovely 1987 recording of Victoria's Versa est in luctum. Tackling Gesualdo's intense and harmonically challenging Ave, dulcissima Maria highlights the high level of precision these singers can execute. Particularly moving are the two sets of Lamentations of Jeremiah by Thomas Tallis, with Brumel and Ferrabosco's settings following. Repetition, however, is not an issue: each composer's treatment (and selection of text) is quite different. The opening of Josquin's Missa Ave maris stella is resplendent with purity of tone, particularly in the women's voices, and is lovely in its canonic pursuit from start to finish.