Released July 2016
James O'Donnell brings composer John Taverner to the fore, presenting two of the undisputed choral masterpieces from sixteenth-century England.
Mater Christi sanctissima
Missa Mater Christi sanctissima
Western Wynde Mass
John Taverner (c.1490–1545)
James O'Donnell conductor
The Choir of Westminster Abbey
Although not much is known about the details of John Taverner's life, he is regarded as one of the most important composers of his era, having contributed significantly to late-medieval English sacred music. His respect for the rich English musical heritage and awareness of contemporary continental styles made him a worthy candidate to become the first director of music at Cardinal College (now Christ Church), Oxford, in 1526.
It is during his time in Oxford that Taverner wrote the motet Mater Christi sanctissima, which appears here alongside its associated so-called 'parody' mass. The second major work on this recording is his Western Wynde Mass, composed, in contrast, on a secular tune of the time. Composers Christopher Tye and John Sheppard both went on to write their own 'Western Wind' masses, paying heed to both the malleability of the popular tune and the immense reputation of Taverner as a composer.
"Two English choral masterpieces, superbly sung"
"His Western Wynde Mass is sacred music of heartfelt expression, performed here with warmth and gentle poise by James O'Donnell and the Choir of Westminster Abbey"
The Shrine of St Edward the Confessor is one of the most powerful features of the Abbey. To stand in the presence of a man who is both a saint and a monarch is awe-inspiring.