Thomas Tallis & William Byrd

Cantiones Sacrae 1575

Directed by David Skinner

2 disc CD set

In 1575 'Thomas 'Tallis then an 'aged man', and his pupil and friend William Byrd, who was in his mid to late 30s, paid tribute to Elizabeth 1 by selecting 17 motets each for their Cantiones Sacrae ('Sacred Songs'), the first major printed collection of music to be published in England.

Many of these works have since become staple in the repertoire of church and chamber choirs throughout the world.

This is the first recording to present the Cantiones in their entirety, by the same group of singers, and in the composers' original order of publication.

EDITOR’S CHOICE, Gramophone Magazine
RECORDING of the MONTH, Music Web International
CD of the MONTH, BBC Music Magazine


Track listing

CD 1
1. Salvator mundi [i] (Tallis)
2. Absterge, Domine (Tallis)
3. In manus tuas (Tallis)
4. Emendemus in melius (Byrd)
5. Libera me, Domine, et pone (Byrd)
6. Peccantem me quotidie (Byrd)
7. Mihi sutem nimis (Tallis)
8. O nata lux (Tallis)
9. O sacrum convivium (Tallis)
10. Aspice, Domine quia facta est (Byrd)
11. Attolite portas (Byrd)
12. O lux beata Trinitias (Byrd)
13. Derelinquat impius (Tallis)
14. Dum transisset sabbatum (Tallis)
15. [Honor] virtus et potestas (Tallis)
16. [Sermone blando...] Illae dum pergunt concite (Tallis)
17. Laudate pueri Dominum (Byrd)
18. Memento homo (Byrd)
19. Siderum rector (SCTBarB)
20. Te lucis ante terminum [festal setting] (Tallis)

1. Te lucis ante terminum [ferial setting] (Tallis)
2. Salvator mundi [ii] (Tallis)
3. [Candidi] facti sunt (Tallis)
4. Da mihi auxilium (Byrd)
5. Domine secundum actum meum (Byrd)
6. Diliges Dominum (Byrd)
7. In ieiunio et fletu (Tallis)
8. Suscipe quaeso Domine / Si enim iniquitates (Tallis)
9. Miserere mihi Domine (Byrd)
10. Tribue Domine / Te deprecor / Gloria patri qui creavit (Byrd)
11. Libera me Domine de morte (Byrd)
12. Miserere nostri Domine (Tallis)

In the press

“Contrasts abound: Byrd’s florid three-section Tribue Domine is almost Marian in its vastness, while Tallis’s hymn setting O nata lux de lumine is brevity itself...The dozen singers perform expressively and blend beautifully throughout, while Skinner, who adopts a commonsense approach to pitch standards, injects passion into every note.”
- The Sunday Times

“They use solo voices throughout, mixed voices with a fairly open sound that brings with it more vibrato than we are used to hearing in such music nowadays...That results in performances that are refreshingly free of self-indulgence. Some of the big Byrd pieces in particular are very good indeed.”
- Gramophone Magazine

“The prevailing mood is penitential, but the pieces are never dull; there's much delight to be had in listening to the way the individual voice parts weave in and out...Skinner gets his singers to bring [the false relations] out so that they send shivers down your spine...[He] shapes the music extremely well.”
- Classic FM Magazine

“Homophonic passages impress with their splendour, enriched here by the chestnut hues of basses William Gaunt and Robert Macdonald. The clarity of line lays bare the ingenuity of counterpoint, no matter how thick the texture becomes - a formidable achievement in Byrd's 'double imitation' motets.”
- BBC Music Magazine

“This is the first time the Cantiones Sacrae has been recorded complete and 'in the original order intended by the composers themselves'...An auspicious beginning to a mighty undertaking.”
- International Record Review

"David Skinner and his Alamire vocal ensemble are building an impressive discography, and this new recording begins a new project—a 30-volume Library of English Music from the High Middle Ages to the Commonwealth. Here they present Tallis and Byrd’s Cantiones Sacrae “in its entirety” and “in the original order intended by the composers.” For these performances Skinner drew from an original copy of the 1575 set of “sacred songs”, plus reputable modern editions of the music.”

"Despite the (very) high quality of other recordings of this music, this new release sweeps the board, if only because it offers the only current collection to bring all the music together. For all Tallis’s partial success and Byrd’s almost total success in writing for the new English liturgy, it is their Latin settings that show their absolute command of renaissance polyphony and nowhere more so than in this collection dedicated to Queen Elizabeth in 1575 - 17 pieces by each of these loyal recusants to mark the 17th anniversary of her reign."
- MusicWeb International