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September 30, 1987, was the date when histor y was made for two companies. For Gramophone it was the f irst t ime in the l ife of the Gramophone Awards (admittedly only 10 years old at the t ime) 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 prett y stellar company (see the group photo below), a young Peter Phillips collected the Award. It was a major milestone in the l ife of Gimell, The Tallis Scholars’ record label. Thirt y-f ive years on f rom that memorable occasion, and 50 in the l ife of The Tallis Scholars, it’s cause for celebrat ion.

It probably shows a staggering lack of curiosit y on my part, but in the nearly 40 years that I’ve k nown about, and l istened to, Gimell recordings, I’ve never wondered what ‘a gimell’ act ually is. A nd now I k now: (according to Grove) it’s a ‘15th- and 16th-centur y English term denoting the counterpoint that results f rom the temporar y splitt ing of one voice part in a polyphonic composition into two voices of equal range’. It’s a f it t ing name for the label that, for many people, introduced them to the sound of polyphony, and opened the door on an ent irely new world. When Gimell was founded by Peter Phillips and the producer Steve Smith, the idea of an ‘own-label’ or ‘single-art ist label’ was a novelt y; nowadays it’s become much more commonplace. The benef its are colossal: total control of the process f rom st udio to release, a focused marketing approach that isn’t diluted by the demands of other art ists, superior qualit y control, and


the abilit y to coordinate the l ive performances with recordings in a way that the pop and rock scene have done for years, but which the classical world has only embraced relat ively recently. The risks are, of course, also considerable, but have been sk ilf ully avoided. Hence this glorious Big 50!

To mark this major milestone, we’ve mined the Gramophone archive and have gathered together a collect ion of art icles and reviews that tell the stor y, as ref lected 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 stor y of an ensemble developing and cult ivat ing a ver y part icular st yle and sound – captured in recorded qualit y of impressive f idelit y – but it’s a stor y of a single-minded ser v ice to a wondrous repertoire. A nd sheer hard work – their 50th anniversar y concert on November 3 is their 2522nd (of which 1721 were given outside the UK)! Long may they continue to champion this extraordinarily rich, powerful and l ife-af f irming music. James Jolly Editor-in-Chief, Gramophone, October 2023




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GRAMOPHONE is published by MA Music, Leisure & Travel Ltd, St Jude’s Church, Dulwich Road, London, SE24 0PB, United Kingdom

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Winning Recording of the Year at the Gramophone

Awards, 1987


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