"Westron wynde, when wyll thou blow,
The small rayne downe can rayne.
Cryst, yf my love were in my armys,
And I yn my bed agayne."
"Western wind when will thou blow,
The small rain down can rain.
Christ, if my love were in my arms,
And I in my bed again."
For this Sunday's "Sunday Playlist" I've uploaded five music videos of the Danish Choir Ars Nova Copenhagen performing John Taverner's 'Westron Wynde' ('Western Wind' ) Mass and put them into a playlist for you to enjoy. It's one of my favourite Masses, one of my favourite pieces of Tudor music, and it's performed here by one of my favourite choirs.
The 'Westron Wynde' Mass gets its name from the fact that it's built on a cantus firmus resembling the melody found in GB-Lbl Roy. App.58, f.5 (see picture). Taverner's 'Westron Wynde' Mass is one of three Masses built upon this decidedly secular melody (the other two were composed by Tye and Sheppard).
Using a secular tune as a cantus firmus — a term which in this context means using a pre-existing melody as the basis of a new polyphonic composition, was quite common amongst continental composers, «L'homme armé » was used as a cantus firmus for settings of the Mass by both Josquin and Dufay for example but that wasn't the case in England. Taverner's 'Westron Wynde' Mass is unique in English renaissance music in that not only is it the first English composition for a Mass based on a secular tune it is also the first in a linked series of compositions of the Mass by different composers. Taverner uses the melody 36 times in all (9 times in each section) switching between voices in a series of polyphonic variations. I particularly like how Taverner does this in this Mass, he couples a very proportionate setting with considerable inventiveness so that each voice gives us a new perspective on the melody. This inventiveness coupled with balance is why it's one of his most influential works and why it is popular to this day.
Click here to listen to the music and read the rest of the posting ...