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Taverner: Western Wynde Mass

Released July 2016

Album cover - Taverner: Western Wynde Mass, Missa Mater Christi sanctissima

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.

Listen to extracts


"Two English choral masterpieces, superbly sung"

- The Guardian (Fiona Maddocks)

"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"

- Financial Times (Richard Fairman)

I’ve worked here for over thirty years and have seen many of the major services - it’s strange to realise that you are in a small way part of history.

Pamela - Rector's Secretary

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