Gramophone publishes free digital magazine celebrating The Tallis Scholars at 50
Tuesday, November 21, 2023
Introducing a special digital edition featuring archive interviews and full reviews of some of The Tallis Scholars' key recordings
September 30, 1987, was the date when history was made for two companies. For Gramophone it was the first time in the life of the Gramophone Awards (admittedly only 10 years old at the time) when a recording of Early Music was voted our Recording of the Year. Dame Elizabeth Legge-Schwarzkopf presented the Awards that year, and amid some pretty stellar company, a young Peter Phillips collected the Award. It was a major milestone in the life of Gimell, The Tallis Scholars’ record label. Thirty-five years on from that memorable occasion, and 50 in the life of The Tallis Scholars, it’s cause for celebration.
It probably shows a staggering lack of curiosity on my part, but in the nearly 40 years that I’ve known about, and listened to, Gimell recordings, I’ve never wondered what ‘a gimell’ actually is. And now I know: (according to Grove) it’s a ‘15th- and 16th-century English term denoting the counterpoint that results from the temporary splitting of one voice part in a polyphonic composition into two voices of equal range’. It’s a fitting name for the label that, for many people, introduced them to the sound of polyphony, and opened the door on an entirely new world.
When Gimell was founded by Peter Phillips and the producer Steve Smith, the idea of an ‘own-label’ or ‘single-artist label’ was a novelty; nowadays it’s become much more commonplace. The benefits are colossal: total control of the process from studio to release, a focused marketing approach that isn’t diluted by the demands of other artists, superior quality control, and the ability to coordinate the live performances with recordings in a way that the pop and rock scene have done for years, but which the classical world has only embraced relatively recently. The risks are, of course, also considerable, but have been skilfully avoided. Hence this glorious Big 50!
To mark this major milestone, we’ve mined the Gramophone archive and have gathered together a collection of articles and reviews that tell the story, as reflected in our pages, of The Tallis Scholars’ remarkable journey on record, and also sets the Early Music scene in the group’s formative years. It’s not only a story of an ensemble developing and cultivating a very particular style and sound – captured in recorded quality of impressive fidelity – but it’s a story of a single-minded service to a wondrous repertoire. And sheer hard work – their 50th anniversary concert on November 3 was their 2522nd (of which 1721 were given outside the UK)! Long may they continue to champion this extraordinarily rich, powerful and life-affirming music.
You can read this special digital edition on Exact Editions now: The Tallis Scholars at 50