Keeping the faith: Tallis, Byrd & 16th century England
Thomas Tallis and William Byrd, not only business partners and colleagues but also close friends and ones who shared a devotion to the Catholic world of early 16th-century England. It is fitting therefore that they should share equal billing in this programme of Tudor music. The concert opens with Tallis’s famous tune Why fum’th in fight which so captivated Ralph Vaughan Williams and led to the writing his Tallis Fantasia. Set against this simplicity is the opulent polyphony of his Missa Salve intemerata virgo. William Byrd propels the listener forward into the later sixteenth century with two stunning motets before his thoughtful and well-crafted set of Mass Propers for the Assumption of the Virgin – music almost certainly written for the now illegal Catholic services. Tribue Domine is a riot of energy and imagination as it celebrates the triumph of the Trinity.
The ending of Tallis’s Salve intemerata virgo was as overwhelming as a Mahler symphony at a tenth of the volume. The Daily Telegraph