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The Tallis Scholars: "Victoria - Lamentations of Jeremiah".

During this week from the 2th to the 8th of April, at 12:00 AM and 12:00 PM (Madrid Time), you can listen to excerpts from the album of The Tallis Scholars: "Victoria - Lamentations of Jeremiah".

The Tallis Scholars
"Victoria - Lamentations of Jeremiah"



 Review from theclassicalreview.com


I have always thought of Victoria as the most colorful of the renaissance polyphonic composers. Within his music there is such intensity: scarlets and shining greens, deep sky blues and shocking yellows. It seems at odds with such beautiful and sacred music but when you listen to it it’s all there, and perfectly at home, radiating out of every chord. Take his setting of the Song of Songs, for instance; it’s a veritable Garden of Eden: the music flowering like freshly sown plants that have never seen the new sun or the brilliant sky. It positively curls with color.

So how does a composer like this write three sets of Lamentations for the three most holy days in the church year: Maundy Thursday, Good Friday and Holy Saturday? There’s no scope for Garden-of-Eden imagery in these plangent texts. Nevertheless, Victoria presents something different. On one level this is music that wears its lamenting lightly: a far cry from the heavy oak solidity of English composers like Robert White or the razor-sharp cries of Tallis – compare the opening phrases of Tallis’s first set and Victoria’s third: they begin almost identically, but where Tallis spirals down to a world of piercing false relations, Victoria rises to a poised, floating texture and tonality – and is even less visceral than Victoria’s own setting of the Responsories for this period. It is also, despite, its composition in Rome, decidedly different from the Lamentations of Palestrina and other composers active in that region.

On another level, it is precisely this lightness that in the end produces an almost overbearing outpouring of grief. Victoria builds up this work gradually: slowly the voice parts grow from five to eight as he racks up the intensity of the movements, in particular the final phrase ‘Jerusalem, Jerusalem, convertere ad Dominum Deum tuum’ (‘Jerusalem, Jerusalem, turn to the Lord your God’), which offers a final, desperate plea, shorn of energy from the more mobile preceding music.

The Tallis Scholars convey this music in the way we’ve grown to expect: with beauty, accuracy, finesse, poise and a graceful sense of musicality that makes this 30th anniversary recording (which also marks Gimell’s 50th release) a joy to listen to from beginning to end. Peter Phillips says he asked the choir for a “more forthright tone” for the main bodies of text, but I’m not sure he got it: the singers are not willing to sacrifice an inch of beauty, even if the text demands it.

But then again, that’s what we love about The Tallis Scholars: that angelic, how-do-they-do-it tone, the wonderful balance – music to sigh to. The disc is stunningly recorded in Merton College Chapel, Oxford – if there’s a better acoustic for recording music like this in England I’d love to know – and is a winning combination of composer and choir at the top of their game. The Lamentations by Juan Gutiérrez de Padilla, born in Malaga, and for many years Maestro de Capilla at Puebla Cathedral in Mexico, is another fine work, sung here with a little more intensity than the Victoria.

By Jonathan Wikeley

Posted on 2012-04-02 11:19:14.907