The members of the Tallis Scholars, leading peformers of unaccompanied Renaissance sacred music, are honoring Mozart’s birthday with music by composers from cities he worked in, visited, or was influenced by. Among the works is the extraordinarily beautiful Miserere by Gregorio Allegri. The story goes that when the pope heard it he declared it could be sung only in the Sistine Chapel and only during Holy Week. The 14-year-old Mozart visited Rome to hear it, then went to his room and wrote it out from memory. It’s easy to understand why–this is breathtaking music, a polyphonically embellished Gregorian chant that contains an ethereal high-soprano solo. The Tallis Scholars, who’ve recorded it several times, have exquisitely balanced voices and a remarkable purity of tone, and their smooth sound creates an enveloping warmth yet is focused and exacting, with very little vibrato. Their crescendos are powerful; their diminuendos die down until they’re almost inaudible and seem to float. The program also includes works by Hassler, Isaac, and Schutz under the superb direction of Peter Phillips. Tue 8/15, 8 PM, Martin Theatre, Ravinia Festival, Green Bay and Lake Cook Rds., Highland Park, 847-266-5100, $10-$40.
Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/R. Haughton.