The Choir of Westminster Abbey
James O'Donnell conductor
This fascinating recording from The Choir of Westminster Abbey explores the immense variety of sacred music composed and performed during the reigns of Mary I and Elizabeth I. Some of England’s greatest musical figures – Byrd, Tallis, Sheppard, Mundy - were active during this time of religious and social turbulence, composing music for both the Roman rite (during its restoration under Mary) and the reformed Church of England under her successor. Many were closely associated with Westminster Abbey. This disc, recorded to mark the 450th anniversary of Mary’s death and Elizabeth’s accession, features several masterpieces of sacred music from the period.
November 1558 is the chronological centrepoint of the disc. The first half of the programme consists of music performed (not necessarily in all cases composed) during Mary’s reign; the second half, beginning with the evening canticles from Sheppard’s Second Service, presents a selection of sacred music produced during the subsequent, much longer and more celebrated reign of Mary’s Protestant half-sister.