Tudor Church Music As It Was Meant To Be Heard

This is a release with a very specific program. It’s English church music from the reigns of Henry VIII and Elizabeth I.  The subtitle narrows the focus — “The Easter Liturgy of the Church of England.” 

Henry VIII broke away from the Roman Catholic Church. But a few elements transferred over to the new church. Some of the music — written by English composers, of course — made the cut. 

The new Church of England wanted music with English, rather than Latin, texts. And composers obliged. This release has works both sung in Latin and in English.

The lineup of composers doesn’t disappoint. Included are William Byrd, Orlando Gibbons, Thomas Tomkins, Thomas Tallis, and Thomas Weekles. Lesser luminaries are also represented, like John Redford, William Munday, and Robert Whyte.

The London Ambrosian Singers is an SATB choir. Missing are the male choirboys that give English choral music its distinctive sound. That’s not a problem. These are very good performances. 

The singers have a very loose ensemble sound. That’s not to say they’re sloppy — they’re not. But the various lines seem to have a little give to them as they interact.

If you’re looking to explore Tudor church music, this is a good place to start. If you’re well-familiar with it but would like a different perspective, give this a listen.

Tudor Church Music
The London Ambrosian Singers; John McCarthy, director

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