Posts Tagged ‘ Tallis ’

Thomas Tallis (±1505-1585): Absterge Domine

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April 7, 2014

Absterge Domine was one of Tallis' greatest hits. It's one of his 'devotional' Elizabethan Latin motets (i.e. its text is non-liturgical,) and despite the fact that it was intended for private use it appears in no less than four contrafacta as well as in the 1575 Cantiones Sacrae. It's deeply penitential with short sections some of which Tallis repeats to heighten the dramatic effect. In fact it's a very dramatic piece of music that rises and falls and uses the minor and major modes to increase the musical – and emotional, impact.

markfromireland

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Thomas Tallis (±1505-1585): In manus tuas

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March 28, 2014

Tallis' setting of the Compline respond is quite typical of his Elizabethan Latin Church music, it's beguiling in its simplicity and its beauty. Tallis' solution of what to do with this piece that could not be performed liturgically was elegant – he turned it into a motet.

markfromireland

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Thomas Tallis (±1505-1585): Videte miraculum

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February 2, 2014

candlemas bells 150x150 The feast of the Purification or Candlemas as it is called in Britain and Ireland falls on February 2nd. Videte miraculum is the Responsory at First Vespers of the Purification  Tallis' setting is based upon plainchant and consists of the full choir alternatim with solo or solo group – the solo portions being unorament chant and the choral sections of the chant set in a six-voice polyphonic texture. This type of Responsory is what's called a 'choral respond' and this one is particularly beautiful. It's sung below by the choir of Westminster Abbey conducted by James O'Donnell. Enjoy :-).

markfromireland

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Thomas Tallis (±1505-1585): Benedictus Blessed be the Lord God of Israel

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January 27, 2014

Before going any further it is important for you to understand that there are two texts called 'the Benedictus' one is part of the Mass the other is called ''The Benedictus of Zechariah' or 'The Canticle of Zechariah' which gets its name from the first line of its text in the Vulgate:

"Benedictus Deus Israhel quia visitavit et fecit redemptionem plebi suae"

Tallissketch150x184In Tallis' time this canticle was sung at Lauds – the service of morning worship that was traditionally said or chanted at daybreak. But Tallis lived in turbulent times and the English Reformation abolished Lauds and substituted Mattins the protestant reformers also abolished the use of Latin stipulating that the texts to be used in the reformed rites were to be in English and the music was to be of sufficient plainness as not to distract the congregation from their prayers. While Tallis' sympathies were with the Catholic Church and against the reformers he nevertheless as a loyal subject of the English crown set English texts for use in the Anglican rites when required to do so.

One such text set by Tallis was Zechariah's canticle. Tallis' setting dates from 1546-8 and in common with other English texted settings by him can be found in the Wanley and Lumley partbooks. He faced several problems while setting this text which can be summarised in two words 'length' and 'interest'. How was he to avoid turning out monotonous musical stodge given the length of the text and the constraints imposed by the sobriety of style demanded by the reformers?

The first part of his solution to this problem was to create lots of contrasts throughout his setting of the text. The second was to divide the choir between tenors and basses and to provide this divided choir with lots of variation amongst the points of imitation. He also made some use of word-painting for example at 'And hath lifted up an horn' and varied homophony with counterpoint. Finally Tallis made a wonderfully effective and very innovative use of a change of chord at 'To give light to them that sit in darkness' to illustrate the sudden transition from the darkness of sin to the sunlit uplands of redemption. The result is a warm and sonorous piece that was much admired by his contemporaries including that other musical genius William Byrd who was so impressed by it that he re-used Tallis' melody of of 'which hath been since the world began' in his setting of the Great Service. Enjoy :-).

markfromireland

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Thomas Tallis (±1505-1585): If ye love me

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October 3, 2013

Edward VI 150x190 Although his sympathies were firmly Catholic Tallis wrote anthems for the reformed rites prescribed by Edward VI's  First Prayer Book of 1549. Edward who Like all the Tudors was fond of music was an ardent Protestant. His government required church music to support the Anglican church's exhortations to Godly living and to enchance the greater emphasis on scripture, preaching, and teaching. Out went intricately layered polyphony music in Latin and in came simpler and more readily comprehensible structures such as this beautiful four-part miniature in two sections. The stunningly clear and beautiful performance of it that you'll find below is sung by The Cardinall's Musick conducted by Andrew Carwood. Enjoy :-)

markfromireland

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Forthcoming Posts

  • Orlando Gibbons (1583-1625): ‘Drop, drop, slow tears’
  • 6th Sunday of Lent 2014: Joseph Haydn (1732-1809) The Seven Last Words of our Saviour on the Cross Op 51

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