Thomas Tallis – Suscipe quaeso, Domine AATTBarBB
per 10 copies
18 pages. Also available for SSAATBB.
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This magnificent motet for 7 voices was the largest item Tallis contributed to the 1575 Cantiones sacrae publication. Several features suggest it was probably composed earlier in Tallis’s career during the first year of Mary I’s reign: following her Catholic Restoration, in 1554 Cardinal Pole absolved England from schism and the penitential text of the motet would suit the prevailing feeling of repentance. The number of voices and scoring are also significant: Seven was a number associated with Marian devotion and the unusual distribution of voice parts is identical to that of Tallis’s Missa Puer natus est. Mary had married Philip of Spain and that Mass was probably written for Christmas 1554 and performed by the combined forces of the Spanish Capilla Flamenca and English Chapel Royal when it was thought that Mary was pregnant. Tallis’s penitential setting of Miserere nostri also uses this scoring. The evidence therefore indicates Suscipe was composed in 1554 as England returned to the Roman Catholic fold of Europe. Stylistically the motet makes far greater use of Flemish-style imitation than previous English works and demonstrates Tallis’s ability to set text clearly within a vast polyphonic canvas.
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