The Renaissance specialists on their 40th birthday tour are ideally heard in ecclesiastical surrounds.

St Mary’s Cathedral, Sydney, October 27

If, like me, you feel that you’ve grown up on Peter Phillips and the Tallis Scholars, the realisation that this trip to Australia is a part of their 40th birthday celebrations is potentially a painful reminder of the rapidity with which the years fly by. Not that I was listening to them in 1973 when they were a bunch of eager undergrads with a dream, but by the early 1980s, their iconic ‘sound’ had begun to define one of the ways in which early music might be realised in the 20th century. Other groups like Gothic Voices or the Huelgas Ensemble might offer a saltier, more edgy tang to the voices, but the Tallis Scholars vaunted purity of tone was always there to seduce you back after the gritty verisimilitude of their more ‘authentic’ rivals.

So how is it 40 years on? This Sydney Opera House Utzon Music Series concert turned out to be a near ideal way of experiencing the Peter Phillips approach, relocated due to the anticipated noise from the Opera House’s own 40th birthday bash to the...