Taverner: Western Wynde Mass, Missa Mater Christi sanctissima

Taverner: Western Wynde Mass, Missa Mater Christi sanctissima
The Choir of Westminster Abbey, James O’Donnell
Hyperion CDA68147. 58’36

Jeremy Summerly’s comprehensive programme note opens with the suggestions that “Early Tudor England was insular and the attitude of its people xenophobic”, quoting an Italian visitor in 1497 that “they have a antipathy to foreigners”, an unfortunate habit that sadly still seems to be the case, at least for around 52% of the population. John Taverner was very clearly an exception to this view, at least musically, for he relished the music coming from the continent. This CD indicates two particular influences, with the complex polyphony and imitative writing of the likes of Josquin featuring in the Missa Mater Christi sanctissima and, in the Western Wynde Mass, as Summerly puts it “a Lutheran dexterity in his use of a secular model for a piece of sacred music”. Continue reading

Western Wind: Music by John Taverner & Court Music for Henry VIII

Western Wind
Music by John Taverner & Court Music for Henry VIII
Taverner Choir & Players, Andrew Parrott
Avie AV2352. 79’20

When I first saw the cover of this CD and the names of the performers, I started looking to see if this was a re-release of an earlier recording. But it is a new recording, made in 2015, featuring the distinguished names of singers Emily Van Evera and Charles Daniels, alongside Andrew Parrott and his Taverner Choir and Players. Most recordings or concerts based on a Mass setting interweave vocal motets around the usual Mass movements in an attempted liturgical reconstruction but, very refreshingly, this CD incorporates a miscellany of instrumental and vocal music related to the Court of Henry VIII alongside The Western Wynde Mass by John Taverner, an almost exact contemporary of the King.

The CD opens with a solo recorder, playing the 16th century melody of Westron wynde before the chanted Kyrie. As was usual in English mass settings Continue reading