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GRAMOPHONE ( 04/ 2019)
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Reviewer: Fabrice Fitch

Recordings of the Missa Gloria tibi Trinitas are hardly lacking, and the Leroy Kyrie featured on that first Tallis Scholars recording all those years ago. In fact, multiple recordings exist for most of these pieces. So I should first say that Contrapunctus and the Choir of The Queen’s College, Oxford, fully meet the challenge they set themselves; in fact I cannot remember hearing either in better voice.

They open with Gaude plurimum, in which the soloists of Contrapunctus sound especially well. Though not Taverner’s most disciplined antiphon, it comes across very effectively; the first entry of the full choir in the second half is very striking. Contrapunctus are on their own in the Leroy Kyrie, perhaps the disc’s most successful item, and a fitting aperitif to the Mass. Their chosen pitch-standard allows the trebles to shape the lines more purposefully than those of The Tallis Scholars (Gimell), both of which pitch it around a minor third higher. Owen Rees’s view of the work is somewhat more leisurely than either of them, and considerably more so than Andrew Parrott’s, and yet it never drags; what one loses in thrills one recoups in appreciating the details. For textural clarity the Tallis and Taverner Choir (Warner) remain unequalled, but the essential distinction between soloists in reduced sections and the full ensemble brings an undeniable grandeur (The Tallis Scholars always have more than one voice on a part). The shorter pieces that round off the recital are also well handled, Audivi vocem especially. In a final comparison, it is hard to argue with the incisiveness and cogency of the Taverner Choir’s (still, maddeningly, nla), but this more relaxed view has much to recommend it.

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