John Sheppard’s moving meditation on human mortality may well have been composed in response to the influenza pandemic of 1557-59, an outbreak that could have claimed his own life in 1558. Media Vita , set in superb six-part polyphony, proclaims that “in the midst of life we are in death”. This imposing musical construction, with its long, interweaving polyphonic arches has become one of the composer’s most beloved and most recorded compositions.

Album artwork

Questions of pitch and pace distinguish the many fine recordings already available. One of the most recent, from...

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