Four Voluntaries

Composer: Thomas Tallis (b. 1505 - d. 1585)
Share :


Composer: Thomas Tallis (b. 1505 - d. 1585)

Performance date: 30/06/2018

Venue: St. Brendan’s Church

Composition Year: 1505-1585

Duration: 00:08:00

Recording Engineer: Ciaran Cullen, RTÉ

Instrumentation Category:Brass Quartet

Instrumentation Other: tpt, tpt, frhn, tbn

Artists: London Chamber Brass Seb Philpott [trumpet], Cai Isfryn [trumpet], Oli Hickie [French horn], Barnaby Philpott [trombone]) - [brass ensemble]


London Chamber Brass

Seb Philpott, Cai Isfryn [trumpets]

Oli Hickie [French horn]

Barnaby Philpott [trombone]

Richard Evans [tuba]


Thomas Tallis [1505-1585], arranged Peter Maxwell-Davies [1934-2016]

Four Voluntaries [arr.1982]

1. Veni Redemtpor Gentium

2. Ex More Docti Mistico

3. Ecce Tempus

4. Presto Molto

Tallis is dead, and Music dies. When Thomas Tallis was buried in 1585, William Byrd, his most celebrated pupil and close friend, composed a lament ending with these words. One of the most important English composers of sacred music, Tallis was a master of harmony and counterpoint and was held in great regard by the ever-changing monarchy of the time. Queen Elizabeth I granted him, together with Byrd, a monopoly for writing polyphonic music, as well as exclusive rights to print sheet music in any language. He was writing in a period during which the idea of harmony was still developing and its rules were yet to be more formally agreed in the Baroque period. His bold dissonances, a characteristic of this period of English music, still sound jarring centuries later. 

The Four Voluntaries originate from The Mulliner Book (1545-1570), a compilation of keyboard works from various composers. In 1982, Sir Peter Maxwell-Davies, himself a giant of British music, arranged four of these into a work for brass quintet. The form is based on plainsong, with the trombone beginning each movement, before being elaborated on by the other instruments.

Seb Philpott