The small string ensemble of Oxford Baroque plays the Praeludium with a juxtaposition of sensuousness and decorum…The choir's interjections are fantastically articulate - with gentle use of inégales, gorgeously shaped ornamental cadences and sincere delivery of the texts.
The songs in this collection span a period of over four hundred years, yet they show a fundamental unity of style which illustrates how static a genre based in a tradition of apparently untrained music-making necessarily remained. Tudor court composers conjure up an Arcadian world of innocence, while later works often derive from indigenous folk-songs. Either way, the secular song packages and sanitises a dangerous world of rustic abandon for an audience more restrictively cultured.
To mark the 500th anniversary of the birth of Tallis, here are his biggest and best church compositions, performed in its customary high style by the Oxford Camerata under Jeremy Summerly (whose Fauré Requiem remains one of Naxos's all-time bestsellers). Tallis's youthful motet Salve intemerata is among the longest single-movement works of the 16th century, but it is Spem in alium, a work of Tallis's maturity, that overshadows any other English piece of the period, including those of his great contemporary, William Byrd. Scored for 40 independent voices, it is symphonic in proportion and resplendent in this surround-sound version.