Hyperion has been reissuing material in the Helios series from their catalogue at an astonishing rate and there are some very desirable bargains going around. Christopher Tye was a contemporary of Thomas Tallis and John Weelkes and his music is markedly conformant to what was the style in the early fifteenth century.
David Hill presents a good cross section of his work here with the 'Euge Bone' mass and a few other sacred pieces. Little is known on Tye's life, but it appears that he was born in 1705 and died in 1573 having obtained a musical degree at Cambridge University and also worked for a long time as a lay chorister. He must have composed a substantial amount of music but very few of it has come down the centuries, but what is left shows a mature and highly technical style.
The short Kyrie 'Orbis Factor' heralds the disc with its polyphonic style and the deft use of shifting harmonics whilst the mass is full of wonderful effects that can be quite exhilarating at times. As is the norm with mass compositions in those days, Tye plunges straight into the Gloria although the layout is rather strange with four Agnus Die's, each lasting around two minutes each. The other motets include a thirteen-minute 'Peccavimus cum patribus nostris' which is also very enticing to listen to.
The Winchester Cathedral Choir sings with firm conviction under David Hill who is a hard taskmaster but the rewards are indeed there to hear. When it was issued first in 1990, the disc won plaudits from major magazines so it is even more attractive now at bargain price.
Copyright © 2001, Gerald Fenech