Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Thomas Tallis

At the risk of this blog turning into a place for me to post recordings of all my favorite music, I'm going to continue in that vein by giving you a sampling of Thomas Tallis. This recording is by the Tallis Scholars (a choir which is truly expert at singing Renaissance music), and contains three pieces - "Miserere Nostri", "Loquebantur Variis Linguis", and "If Ye Love Me". I'd never heard the first one before, but have sung the other two with the TAC choir. The one I mostly wanted to concentrate this post on is "Loquebantur Variis Linguis." I have kind of a love-hate relationship with this piece, as it is really quite beautiful, but presented difficulties to our choir when we attempted to learn it, with the result that we did NOT make it sound beautiful for quite some time. It may not sound quite as "together" as some polyphonic pieces - the different lines all go off in varying directions and don't really resolve themselves into a unified sounding whole until towards the end, but there is a very good reason for this. The song is about Pentecost, and how the Apostles spoke in different tongues. Thus, Tallis was trying to musically convey the idea of a lot of languages going on all at once. I think he succeeded. For those who wish to skip directly to this piece, it begins at around 2:25 in the recording.

Loquebantur variis linguis apostoli, alleluia,
magnalia Dei. Alleluia.
Repleti sunt omnes Spiritu Sancto,
et ceperunt loqui,
magnalia Dei. Alleluia.
Gloria Patri et Filio et Spiritui Sancto. Alleluia.

The Apostles were speaking in various tongues, alleluia,
of the great works of God. Alleluia.
They were all filled with the Holy Spirit,
and began to speak,
of the great works of God. Alleluia.
Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit. Alleluia.


Blogger Mary French said...

There must be groups like the Tallis Singers in the US, but for the life of me, I can't find them. Seems like all the really talented choral groups that sing serious liturgical music are based in Britain. I think it has something to do with the fact that this kind of music has long been officially supported by the royal family, by the COE, and by the various universities in England. We don't have this sort of official patronage here. Too bad.

8:56 AM  

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