I Fagiolini & Octopus Kamerkoor

For the organ point of the 20th edition of Laus Polyphoniae some ‘pump and circumstance’ is in order: 80 musicians wave the celebrated one goodbye  with the ‘composition in residence’ and an equally monumental Mass!
Even a metropolis such as London shook on its foundations when the Italian Alessandro Striggio bounced it in 1567 with his extravagant, forty-part Ecce beatam lucem. Like anywhere else in Europe this sound carpet could immediately count on acclaim, also from Thomas Tallis – one of the fixtures of Elizabeth’s musical household. Shortly afterwards Tallis himself proved his mettle with Spem in alium: an impressive polyphonic construction in which eight five-part choirs work wonders with chords and motifs.
As Tallis’s forty-part creation originates in the period when The Virgin Queen – his patroness – celebrated her fortieth anniversary, it is plausible that the work was meant as a present for the music-loving queen. According to another hypothesis Tallis was commissioned by some noblemen to write a counterpart of Striggio’s motet with a view to surpassing this piece of Italian bravura with English class. At any rate the result is fabulous: an ingenious interweaving of consonance and counterpoint, for this occasion stacked up into a cathedral of sound by the British I Fagiolini and the Belgian Chamber Choir Octopus.