Hyperion Records

Western Wynde Mass
author of text
Ordinary of the Mass

'Taverner: Western Wynde Mass & other sacred music' (CDH55056)
Taverner: Western Wynde Mass & other sacred music
Buy by post £5.50 CDH55056  Helios (Hyperion's budget label)  
'The Sixteen & The Golden Age of Polyphony' (CDS44401/10)
The Sixteen & The Golden Age of Polyphony
Buy by post £38.50 CDS44401/10  10CDs Boxed set (at a special price)  
'Renaissance Giants' (CDGIM207)
Renaissance Giants
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'The Tallis Scholars sing Tudor Church Music, Vol. 1' (CDGIM209)
The Tallis Scholars sing Tudor Church Music, Vol. 1
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'Taverner: Missa Gloria tibi Trinitas' (CDGIM004)
Taverner: Missa Gloria tibi Trinitas
Buy by post £11.75 CDGIM004 
'Taverner, Tye & Sheppard: Western Wynde Mass' (CDGIM027)
Taverner, Tye & Sheppard: Western Wynde Mass
Buy by post £11.75 CDGIM027 
Movement 1: Gloria
Movement 2: Credo
Movement 3: Sanctus and Benedictus
Movement 3a: Sanctus
Track 6 on CDH55056 [4'46] Helios (Hyperion's budget label)
Track 3 on CDS44401/10 CD6 [4'46] 10CDs Boxed set (at a special price)
Movement 3b: Benedictus
Track 7 on CDH55056 [2'42] Helios (Hyperion's budget label)
Track 4 on CDS44401/10 CD6 [2'42] 10CDs Boxed set (at a special price)
Movement 4: Agnus Dei

Western Wynde Mass
The Western Wynde is perhaps the best-known of all Taverner’s masses, partly for the ingenuity and clarity of its structure, but also more especially for its tunefulness. Moreover, it was evidently admired in its own day, since the younger composers Tye and Sheppard, probably in emulation, based masses on the same theme. The melody on which Taverner based his mass is of unknown provenance. It is clearly a secular tune which enjoyed some popularity but which does not occur in any of the few surviving sources of the early sixteenth century. There is a song whose text begins ‘Westron wynde when wyll thow blow’ in a manuscript in the British Library, and although its tune bears some similarities to Taverner’s, these might easily be no more than the common stylistic mannerisms of the period.

The Western Wynde may be the earliest mass composed in England to be based on a secular melody, although the practice had been common on the continent since the time of Dufay. The use of popular tunes in sacred music was advocated by Luther, and this, coupled with some internal stylistic factors, has led to the suggestion that the Mass belongs to Taverner’s Oxford years when he came into contact with advocates of the ‘new learning’. On the other hand, part of the Agnus Dei occurs in keyboard format in a manuscript which may date from as early as 1520, and which seems to have some association with Court circles. If the Mass does date from early in Taverner’s career, its progressive style and originality of design are even more remarkable.

The melody occurs nine times in each of the four movements (the Sanctus-Benedictus being a formal entity). Heard first in the top voice it subsequently moves to the contratenor or bass, while broadly similar changes of scoring and metre occur in each movement. The result is one of the most closely unified of all English cyclic masses. As was customary in England the Kyrie was not set, probably because its text would vary according to the feast or season. Taverner also left out part of the Credo text, from ‘Et in Spiritum sanctum’ to ‘in remissionem peccatorum’—again a peculiarly English practice which has never been satisfactorily explained, although Hugh Benham has suggested that such omissions arise from the early fifteenth-century practice of ‘telescoping’ or overlapping phrases of text, such portions then being abbreviated or even cut out entirely by subsequent copyists.

from notes by John Heighway © 2000

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