2013 marks the fortieth anniversary of the foundation of The Tallis Scholars. This milestone will be marked by concerts all over the world, including a special birthday event in St Paul’s Cathedral in March at which music by Byrd and Tallis, including the latter’s Spem in alium. This will be heard alongside some contemporary pieces such as the world premières of commissioned works by Eric Whitacre and Gabriel Jackson (details here). I expect – and hope – that some new recordings will be forthcoming also. In the meantime Gimell has come up with this very clever idea of issuing a set of forty-seven short recordings, mainly from their back catalogue, though I think I’m right in saying that the two Taverner items on disc two are brand new and come from a disc of that composer’s music that is due out later this year. The concept behind this compilation is that whereas forty years ago Renaissance vocal music was seldom heard on the radio that’s no longer the case and this release will be ideally suited to radio presenters who need a “Renaissance snippet”. As such, these discs may well introduce radio listeners to the art of The Tallis Scholars and to the music which they’ve so effectively championed for four decades. For the CD collector this is a splendid compilation set to dip into, though I warn you that if you do so you’re likely to find your ear led on to further tracks.
The selection doesn’t take us right back to the start of the ensemble’s recording history, that famous recording of the Allegri Miserere made when the group had been in existence for six or seven years (review). In fact, the recording of the Allegri that’s