Sunday, March 04, 2012

Tallus Scholars perform Allegri's Miserere

A long-time favorite of mine has been this recording of Peter Phillips and the Tallis Scholars performing Allegri's Miserere in the basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore in Rome. I had the audio recording long before discovering this video of the recording on YouTube, which shows the effect of the placement of the three different groupings of the choir members throughout different parts of the ancient basilica. Absolutely magisterial. And, for anyone who doesn't know Latin, they're singing the greatest of all the Penitential Psalms, Psalm 51 -- quite appropriate for Lent.

Psalm 51 (excerpt):
Have mercy upon me, O God, according to thy lovingkindness: according unto the multitude of thy tender mercies blot out my transgressions. Wash me throughly from mine iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin.For I acknowledge my transgressions: and my sin is ever before me. Against thee, thee only, have I sinned, and done this evil in thy sight: that thou mightest be justified when thou speakest, and be clear when thou judgest. Behold, I was shapen in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me.

Behold, thou desirest truth in the inward parts: and in the hidden part thou shalt make me to know wisdom. Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean: wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow. Make me to hear joy and gladness; that the bones which thou hast broken may rejoice. Hide thy face from my sins, and blot out all mine iniquities.

Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me. Cast me not away from thy presence; and take not thy holy spirit from me. Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation; and uphold me with thy free spirit....
The story about the fourteen-year-old Mozart hearing the piece performed in the Vatican, memorizing it, and sneaking it out to the public is backed up by family letters. (Breakin' the law, breakin' the law!) What a legacy!