“This set centres round one of Sheppard's bestknown four-part Masses, The Western Wynde.
Though largely syllabic in style, in accordance with liturgical prescriptions at a time when taste in church music was turning towards ever greater emphasis on the text, this Mass still has moments that recapture the earlier visionary style in all its wonder. The section 'Et incarnatus est', coming after an amazing cadence at 'descendit de coelis' in the Credo, is a case in point. 'Pleni sunt coeli' is another, and also the opening of the Benedictus, where the melody unfolds unhurriedly over the delicate counterpoint of the mean and the bass. In such passages The Sixteen is in its element, each singer relating to the others with the intimacy and mutual understanding of performers of chamber music.
The supporting programme includes alternatim hymn settings, responsories and a Te Deum.
In all these the chant is sung with excellent phrasing and a smooth legato. Some subtle repercussions in the intonation to Dum transissetSabbatum are particularly pleasing.
In all five pieces, though, the tempo of the chant sections bore little relationship to the polyphony – the least far removed being that of the hymn Aeterne Rex altissime, where the individual chant notes had roughly the duration of a half-beat of the polyphony. The English Magnificatand Nunc dimittis reveal Sheppard fully conforming to the later syllabic style in a rich and joyful texture. Here, and in the Latin TeDeum The Sixteen display to the full their glowing vocal qualities. This is wonderful singing, with a sense of freedom and flow that's almost overpowering.” Gramophone Classical Music Guide, 2010