In 1956 the first long-playing record devoted to the music of Thomas Tallis was issued by the American record company Vanguard.1 It included five hymns and the Lamentations: ‘Magnificent music, beautifully sung, finely recorded’, was one distinguished and exacting English critic's opinion. He thought that the artists sang ‘with real style and conviction’.2 An American critic thought the performances ‘little short of perfection’.3 Fifteen years later, on a reissue of the disc, a reviewer considered that the singers were ‘in superb form, singing so beautifully in tune that they still make other groups sound comparatively coarse’.4 This was a group of five solo men's voices, with a soprano, Eileen McLoughlin, joining them in the hymns. One of the critics conceded that if ‘authenticity’ were to have been...

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