Posts Tagged ‘ Tallis ’

Thomas Tallis (1505-1585): Lamentations of Jeremiah I & II

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April 2, 2015

Prophet Jeremiah, date circa 1125 AD. Location:  Abbaye St-Pierre de Moissac

Prophet Jeremiah, date circa 1125 AD. Location: Abbaye St-Pierre de Moissac

I've always thought of the two sets of Lamentations as Tallis' most personal music. The text is from that set for Maundy Thursday (Holy Thursday) but Tallis plainly had no intention of setting them so that they could be used liturgically. He did something far more radical which is that he turned something which was part of a highly elaborated rite into a motet – into two motets in fact. Tallis' personal sympathies were plainly Catholic and the circles in which he moved were recusant. Times were hard for English Catholics and about to become harder, so Tallis' fellow Catholics would have greatly appreciated having the opportunity of performing these texts with the sharply reduced musical forces now available to them.

Musically they're things of great beauty. Tallis' intent was for them to be sung not consecutively as they're sung below but separated by the sung responsorium In monte Oliveti (which is why Tallis has set them in different modes). Each motet's various sections are delineated by Hebrew letters that Tallis has set almost as though they were consort music while the verses themselves are full of subtle musical effects to heighten the effect such as cumulative repetition and the almost antiphonal way in which Tallis sets off one voice against the rest. Whether you take them individually or together they're beautifully designed pieces of  musical architecture that are also profound spriritual and of whose purpose – a plea by Tallis, a Catholic in a Protestant country that his homeland return to the Catholic faith 'Ierusalem, Ierusalem, convertere ad Dominum Deum tuum' (Jerusalem, Jerusalem, return unto the Lord thy God.) there can be no doubt.

markfromireland

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Thomas Tallis (±1505-1585): Miserere nostri

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March 30, 2015

Miserere nostri is unusual amongst Tallis' motets in being set for more than five parts and in following a continental double canon model rather than an English model. It's for six voices with a seventh (tenor) voice making an appearance once for harmonic reasons.

mfi

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Thomas Tallis (±1505-1585): Forgive me, Lord my sin

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March 9, 2015

Very little is known about this piece, we don't know when Tallis composed it, or for whom, or for what occasion. But it appears in both editions of James Clifford’s published collections of anthem texts. Clifford's collection was the "greatest hits" compilation of the time so "Forgive me, Lord my sin" must have been both very popular and widespread. Enjoy :-).

mfi

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Thomas Tallis (±1505-1585): Miserere nostri, Domine

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March 5, 2015

The phrase "Miserere nostri, Domine" (Have mercy on us Lord) appears twice in the Liturgy once as  the third verse of psalm 122 and again as the second last verse of the Te Deum. The phrase itself is an alternative form of the more familiar Miserere nobis found in the ordinary of the Mass. It's one of three texts collectively referred to as "Miserere" texts, Miserere Mei, Miserere Mihi, and Miserere Nostri and all three texts are of interest to us as music lovers because during the reign of Elizabeth II a tradition developed amongst English composers of setting the 'Miserere' texts to canonic musical settings as a demonstration of their technical mastery of the compositional arts. If you like Elizabethan polyphonic music and the text being set is one of the Miserere texts you can be pretty sure you're in for a treat.

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Thomas Tallis (±1505-1585): Quod chorus vatum

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February 2, 2015

Tallis' setting of Rabanus Maurus' (776-856) text Quod chorus vatum sung here by the Chapelle du Roi under Alistair Dixon. Quod chorus vatum is the Hymn at Vespers on the Feast of the Purification (Candlemas) which falls on February 2nd.  Enjoy :-).

markfromireland

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