These are very beautiful performances which have worn well considering that they were recorded in the Sixteen's earlier days, nearly a quarter of a century ago. Only three or four of the singers here are still singing with Harry Christophers and amongst those is the characteristically exceptionally pure and soaring sound of soprano Sally Dunkley, her voice instantly recognisable.
While I often fight the OVPP Sixteen-bashers tooth and nail, I am ready to concede two relative weaknesses in these recordings. First, the recording acoustic sound is a bit mushy, as are the vocal textures, sometimes resulting in a soupier sound than is ideal for picking out the strands within polyphonic music. While I do not find the balance too heavily tipped towards the upper voices in the "mean" line, there is some truth in the fact that the Sixteen are sometimes a little too detached and expressionless in their interpretation. This is a question of taste but it seems to me that it is not incongruous occasionally to dramatise more overtly key words either in the Masses or in the motets, as do some competitive recordings.
This version of the Mass for 4 Voices received the imprimatur of the presenter of a recent CD Review on BBC Radio 3 with the proviso that you have a liking for a smoother, more sonorous and bigger-scale account than smaller, OVPP recordings. As it is, this is a real bargain, combining two Masses and six motets by Byrd with a bonus in the form of the lovely eight-voice setting of the "Super flumina Babylonis" sent to Byrd by Philippe de Monte. Tuning is impeccable and I find no want of upward thrust but the emphasis is decidedly upon beauty over drama.