Saturday, 1 December 2007

17. Thomas Tallis - Spem In Alium (c.1569)


Title: Spem In Alium - The 40 Part Motet and Other Music
Performer: Choir Of Winchester Cathedral
Director: David Hill
Year: 1989
Length: 11 minutes


This is a pretty impressive piece of music, imagine a motet, an now imagine that instead of the usual 4 to 8 parts you have 40. Now imagine the Winchester Cathedral Choir gives a bunch of voices to each part, add to this the echo of a church and you got an incredible cacophony.

Well it is a beautiful cacophony, it is just a massive wall of sound that disperses and comes together at different parts, like something straight out of heaven, but a pretty oppressive and chaotic heaven. It is beautiful but confusing like a kaleidoscope.

This is definitely the most impressive bit of music that we have had here. It is only one track in 11 minutes but it is a damn impressive one. And more than worth getting. The theatricality of it is quite impressive and it is something I would really love to see done live. Get it.

Track Highlights

1. Spem In Alium

Final Grade



From Wikipedia:

A 1611 letter written by the law student Thomas Wateridge contains the following anecdote:

In Queene Elizabeths time there was a songe sent into England of 30 parts (whence the Italians obteyned the name to be called the Apices of the world) which beeinge songe mad[e] a heavenly Harmony. The Duke of — bearing a great love to Musicke asked whether none of our English men could sett as good a songe, & Tallice beinge very skillfull was felt to try whether he would undertake the Matter, which he did and mad[e] one of 40 p[ar]ts which was songe in the longe gallery at Arundell house which so farre surpassed the other th[a]t the Duke hearinge of the songe tooke his chayne of gold from of his necke & putt yt about Tallice his necke & gave yt him

Version by the Tallis Scholars:

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