Sheppard’s Western Wind Mass
is the third and last of the three settings based on this melody (the others are by Taverner
). This is the shortest of them, in number of bars nearly half the length of the Taverner, involving twenty-four repetitions of the melody which are to be found in every part except the mean. This relative brevity can be explained by Sheppard’s musical language, so different from that just discussed. Although there are passages which pay homage to the melismatic, rhythmically complex style of the early sixteenth century, this much more syllabic style must come from near the end of the composer’s life when he, like everyone else, was influenced consciously or unconsciously by the new Protestant ideals of textual clarity. Nor is the brevity without creative impact: each movement has a drive through it which does not characterize either Tye’s or Taverner’s setting.
from notes by Peter Phillips © 2008