John Taverner (d. 1545) is, arguably, the most famous of all early Tudor composers, and one who had a rather colourful musical and political career. His music represents the final flowering of late medieval English polyphony before the onslaught of mid 16th-century Reformation.
Much of the music on this recording centres around Taverner’s earlier career, including the three surviving large-scale Votive Antiphons. Included, too, is his sumptuous six-part Quemadmodum, which stylistically foreshadows true ‘Renaissance’ composition in England.
“It presents two of John Taverner’s Marian antiphons...alongside other ritual works, highlighting his changing approach, his convergence on an expressive clarity that became the epitome of late-Renaissance style. Unchanging are his arching melodic lines, his eloquent harmonic language and his liking for rich, variously coloured textures. The vocal ensemble Alamire’s singing approaches perfection.” Sunday Times, 4th December 2011
“the luminous timbre of Alamire's two contraltos makes a pleasant change from the sometimes hooty tones of choral countertenors. The whole ensemble, in fact, shares that luminosity. The purity of tone and accuracy of tuning throughout this programme are about as fine as I have ever heard...a sumptuous wash of sound that is at the same time highly intelligible.” International Record Review, November 2011
“Mater Christi is near perfect in its shaping and David Skinner is right to praise Quemadmodem, whose extraordinary concision shows how far Taverner moved from the swashbuckling vigour of his youth....Taverner's successes are Alamire's, in the main...The singers respond in kind to the compact, reflective Mater Christi” Gramophone Magazine, January 2012
“it contains some truly great music...The choir is very well directed by David Skinner who negotiates these expansive, arching structures with poise and insight...the female sopranos are at once delicate and sure-footed, and the cumulative effects from the whole choir in O splendor Gloriae are breathtaking.” BBC Music Magazine, January 2012 ****