One of the most grown-up review sites around

Search MusicWeb Here



International mailing

  Founder: Len Mullenger             Senior Editor: John Quinn               Contact Seen and Heard here  

Some items
to consider

16th-19th November

Nothing but Praise

BrucKner 4 Nelsons
the finest of recent years.

superb BD-A sound

This is a wonderful set

Telemann continues to amaze

A superb disc

Performances to cherish

An extraordinary disc.

rush out and buy this

I favour above all the others

Frank Martin - Exemplary accounts

Asrael Symphony
A major addition

Another Bacewicz winner

match any I’ve heard

An outstanding centenary collection

personable, tuneful, approachable

a very fine Brahms symphony cycle.

music that will be new to most people

telling, tough, thoughtful, emotionally fleet and powerfully recorded

hitherto unrecorded Latvian music


REVIEW Plain text for smartphones & printers

Support us financially by purchasing this from

John TAVERNER (1490-1545)
Motet, Mater Christi sanctissima (c.1526) [6:02]
Missa Mater Christi sanctissima (c.1526) [26:58]
Western Wynde Mass (1528) [25:36]
Choir of Westminster Abbey/James O’Donnell
rec. St Alban’s Church, Holborn, London, 16-17 June 2015
HYPERION CDA68147 [58:36]

These two masses by John Taverner show him at the height of his considerable powers, as one of the finest composers of the Renaissance period. He completed no fewer than eight settings of the mass, plus some fragments and numerous motets. These particular examples are relatively compact settings that do not compromise the natural fluency of the composer’s style, and as such they make an ideal pairing. The Western Wynde Mass is rather better known than Mater Christi, but the latter is also a notable composition with a somewhat more expansive approach, developing material deriving from Taverner’s own motet of that name. It is therefore thoughtful and rewarding that the motet is included on this recording; indeed it is the very opening item.

These performances from the Choir of Westminster Abbey are admirable: beautifully judged in both their balance and shaping. The atmospheric acoustic of St Alban’s Holborn (not the Abbey itself) contributes hugely in successfully capturing the music’s intrinsic qualities and how they are represented in this recording. There is ideal balance between ambience and precision, so that in the five-part Mater Christi Mass in particular, the individual lines come across with the utmost clarity: the lower voices in the ‘In nomine’ provide a perfect example of this. If the trebles do not make such an immediate impression, they still contribute successfully to the overall effectiveness of the music.

James O’Donnell directs a most sensitive rendition of the four-part Western Wynde Mass, ideally paced while again bringing particular point to details found within the texture. There is a another recent issue, directed by Andrew Parrott (Avie AV2352), in which the Mass is coupled with a varied programme of shorter items, not all of them by Taverner. It is hardly surprising that this also offers an interpretation that does justice the music, perhaps more dramatically than O’Donnell’s more restrained and arguably more beautiful version.

Tribute must also be paid to Jeremy Summerley’s splendid accompanying notes, as well as to the qualities of presentation and design found in the Hyperion booklet, once again setting the standard against which all others should be judged.

Terry Barfoot


Advertising on

Donate and keep us afloat


New Releases

Naxos Classical

Nimbus Podcast

Obtain 10% discount

Special offer 50% off

Musicweb sells the following labels
Acte Préalable
(THE Polish label)
Altus 10% off
Atoll 10% off
CRD 10% off
Hallé 10% off
Lyrita 10% off
Nimbus 10% off
Nimbus Alliance
Prima voce 10% off
Red Priest 10% off
Retrospective 10% off
Saydisc 10% off
Sterling 10% off

Follow us on Twitter

Subscribe to our free weekly review listing

Sample: See what you will get

Editorial Board
MusicWeb International
Founding Editor
Rob Barnett
Senior Editor
John Quinn
Seen & Heard
Editor Emeritus
   Bill Kenny
Editor in Chief
MusicWeb Webmaster
   David Barker
MusicWeb Founder
   Len Mullenger