THE TALLIS SCHOLARS, in concert in the Libby Gardner Concert Hall on the University of Utah Campus, Thursday, April 26, 7:30 p.m.; one performance only.

Renaissance music is alive and well, thanks to the Tallis Scholars. This British vocal ensemble, under the musical direction of founder Peter Phillips, has been delighting audiences worldwide for more than a quarter century with its lively and engaging performances of music from the 16th century. And Thursday, they returned to Salt Lake City after a 10-year absence.

The Tallis Scholars is a remarkable group, a choir of seven men and three women. The 10 voices blend well together, and their sound is crisp and crystalline. Their articulation is exquisite, their execution impeccable, and they sing so that each vocal line is clearly defined and distinct. And the group's interpretations of Renaissance music is refreshingly alive and vibrant. There is nothing academic about these potent and emotionally charged performances.

For Thursday's concert, the Tallis Scholars sang works spanning the entire 16th century, with Palestrina as the central figure. And for many, Palestrina's music exemplifies the ideals of the Renaissance. However, unlike many of his contemporaries, Palestrina's works are fairly conservative. For example, they don't exhibit any of the harmonic innovations that other composers were experimenting with at the time. Nevertheless, his music is melodic and expressive and, at times, quite beautiful.

The first half of the program was taken up with two works by Palestrina, the "Jubilate Deo," which is a setting of Psalm 100, and a Mass, "Missa Ecce ego Johannes." Of the two, the "Jubilate Deo" is the more exciting and interesting piece. The Mass, on the other hand, while not without musical interest, is a rather more straightforward and direct setting of the text, drier and rhythmically plain.

The second half consisted of five works, from either end of the 16th century. Two of the loveliest on the program were Nicolas Gombert's "Magnificat VII" and "Musae Jovis." Both are warm in their harmonic language, and sincere and heartfelt in their musical expression.

One of the most striking pieces on the concert was "Mirabile Mysterium," by the late 16th century composer Jacobus Gallus. This piece is vividly chromatic and amazingly varied in its harmonies and brought some delightful contrast to the program.


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