The Tallis Scholars

And so to Manchester's Bridgewater Hall to enjoy a concert by the Tallis Scholars, the remarkable ensemble specialising in performing Renaissance polyphony, including works by Tallis, Monteverdi, Praetorius and Byrd, amongst others.

Tonight's concert featured music written in forty parts with the highlight of course being Tallis's monumental forty-part motet Spem In Alium. It is rare to find this being performed at all and tonight's performance was truly magnificent. There were also two more modern works of a similar scale: I Have Thee By The Hand by north-west composer Robin Walker; and Sanctum Est Verum Lumen by Gabriel Jackson. To these were added works by Sheppard and Allegri as well as more modest items by Tallis.

As always, the Scholars performed flawlessly with their soaring voices filling the Hall. Although the Bridgewater Hall (built in the 1990s) is no York Minster, the fine acoustics suit vocal music and the lack of echo meant that we could fully appreciate the precision with which the Scholars performed.

The best - Spem In Alium - was kept until last. Originally written for eight five-part choirs in about 1570, there could have been few opportunities to peform it during Elizabeth's reign. The Reformed rite (liturgy exclusively sung in English) was firmly established in Elizabethan England and Tallis's continued writing of Latin music only supported rumours that he had recusant sympathies. We are more fortunate and enjoyed a stunning performance which ended the concert (literally) on a high note.