James O’Donnell, Westminster Abbey Choir – Taverner: Choral Works (2016) [Hyperion FLAC 24bit/96kHz]

James O’Donnell, Westminster Abbey Choir – Taverner: Choral Works (2016)
FLAC (tracks) 24 bit/96 kHz  | Time – 58:37 minutes | 1,03 GB | Genre: Classical
Studio Masters, Official Digital Download – Source: hyperion-records.co.uk | Booklet, Front Cover | © Hyperion Records

Two of the undisputed choral masterpieces from sixteenth-century England, by one of the greatest English composers: John Taverner’s Missa Mater Christi sanctissima and Western Wynde Mass. The five hundred years since the works’ genesis are but as a watch in the night in these sublime performances from Westminster Abbey Choir and James O’Donnell.

The English choral style of the early Renaissance can be forbidding, with vast structures unmarked by the points of imitation and regular phrase structure of High Renaissance polyphony. The music of John Taverner fits this description, but the Western Wynde Mass, a compact piece permeated by the popular song on which it is based, is an unusually accessible example. It is not really either a cantus firmus mass or a parody mass. The emphasis can be variously placed in performing it, but the 30 men and boys of the Westminster Abbey Choir under James O’Donnell apply a simple, direct approach that’s very appealing. Sample any movement for the effect. The program opens with a cantus firmus mass (together with the motet on which it’s based), the Missa Mater Christi sanctissima, which is similar in scope to the Western Wynde Mass, but somewhat different in construction and entirely different in effect. Thus, the music is attractive in itself and is likely to hone the ear of the average listener in terms of hearing the styles of Taverner’s music. The sound is another plus, recorded at St. Alban’s church rather than at the rather cavernous Abbey itself. An above-average entry in the ongoing stream of recordings by England’s renowned cathedral choirs.

01 – Mater Christi sanctissima
02 – Missa Mater Christi sanctissima: I. Gloria
03 – Missa Mater Christi sanctissima: II. Credo
04 – Missa Mater Christi sanctissima: III. Sanctus
05 – Missa Mater Christi sanctissima: IV. Benedictus
06 – Missa Mater Christi sanctissima: V. Agnus Dei
07 – Western Wynde Mass: I. Gloria
08 – Western Wynde Mass: II Credo
09 – Western Wynde Mass: III. Sanctus
10 – Western Wynde Mass: IV. Benedictus
11 – Western Wynde Mass: V. Agnus Dei

Produced by Adrian Peacock. Engineered by Andrew Mellor.
Recorded in June 2015 at St Alban’s Church, Holborn, London, United Kingdom.

Westminster Abbey Choir – Conducted by James O’Donnell