Husband and wife team violinist Thomas Zehetmair and violist Ruth Killius have divided their performing and recording careers between standard and contemporary repertoire. On this CD they tackle a diverse selection of 20th and 21st century repertoire for their instruments. Giacinto Scelsi's 1957 Manto for viola and female voice is in the three movements. The first two, for viola alone, betray little direction or focus and are relentlessly, gratingly dissonant. The third movement with voice is intriguing in its interweaving of the contrasting timbres and is altogether engaging.
Few ensembles are as difficult to write about as the incomparable Tallis Scholars. Inevitably, you just string together an array of superlatives and hope that other reviewers haven't gushed about the same attributes using the same words in precisely the same order. The ensemble's recording of the Christmas Mass and the antiphon Ave Dei patris filia marks both its fourth recording of works by Renaissance master Thomas Tallis and one of Gimell's last albums to be made during an unhappy affiliation with Universal Classics. (The label has since reverted to independent status, distributed in the United States by Harmonia Mundi.) As has been the case with other Tallis Scholars projects, the singers have rediscovered missing manuscripts and have put together the first modern performance editions of both of these works. Their complete mastery of their chosen subject, combining keen scholarship and transcendent beauty, makes this a radiant recording. The clarity and luminescent tone that conductor Peter Phillips achieves with his singers are simply superb. The recording, made at their frequent locale of the Church of Saints Peter and Paul in Norfolk, is a faithful one–but don't miss any opportunity to hear them live.