Robert Macneil
The Portal
June 2016

This recording by The Cardinal’s Musick of Lamentations and other sacred music brings to life in a spectacular way the words and music of Thomas Tallis. The recording mixes Latin and English texts which reflect the development of Tallis’ compositions and the clarity of The Cardinal’s Musick is superb.

Thomas Tallis (c1505-1585) lived and composed in a time of great change for English Church music. With the introduction of Archbishop Cranmer’s first Book of Common Prayer in 1549, the services of the Church of England were in English and came with clear instructions about the type of music that should be used.

Tallis, as one of the first composers to write liturgical music in English, followed Cranmer’s instruction that there should be only one note for each syllable, thus breaking away from any hint of the previous tradition of plainsong chant where a group of notes were often sung to one syllable of text.

In contrast to the English texts of the setting of the Communion Service, Tallis’ setting of the Lamentations of Jeremiah is in Latin, looking back to the days of the church music of Henry VII and the early years of Henry VIII, which contrasted with the move away from music for the Mass to be more in keeping with Edward VI’s Protestant regime.

The performance by The Cardinal’s Musick under the direction of Andrew Carwood and recorded in the magnificent 14th century Fitzalan Chapel in the western grounds of Arundel Castle in West Sussex, is quite superb. The clarity and precision allows one to become immersed in the wonderful compositions of Thomas Cranmer. This will be an excellent addition to your Tallis collection.