William Byrd’s four-part mass is one of the treasures of Tudor music. It is a quiet, devotional piece, composed for private worship at a time when adherence to the Catholic faith invited charges of treason. The expressiveness of the music was well conveyed in Oxford Spezzati’s singing of this piece. There is a wonderful purity and simplicity about Byrd’s setting. The choir did full justice to its sense of piety and prayerful entreaty in a time of great trouble. The Agnus Dei was particularly moving.

The choir of eight voices was well balanced and produced an attractive sound. Nicholas Mumby, who sings one of the bass parts, directed with nice observation of detail and obvious empathy for the music. Tudor anthems made up the rest of the evening’s programme. We heard both the Gibbons and Weelkes settings of Hosanna to the Son of David and the Weelkes and Tomkins settings of When David Heard. Tomkins’s version is particularly fine — especially the setting of the words “would God I had died for thee”.

Two of Tallis’s Latin motets, Te lucis ante terminum and Suscipe quaeso Domine, and Byrd’s exquisite Infelix ego completed the concert.

The interweaving polyphony was clear and well articulated, and the sense and emotion of the individual pieces strongly communicated.

The Oxford Spezzati began life when they were undergraduates in Oxford. Mumby himself was at Exeter. Now the members mostly live in London and tend to perform there. For a non-professional choir the standard of singing was impressive.

Exeter Chapel is a perfect setting for such music and the performance benefited from the glorious acoustic. They deserved a larger audience. Competing musical events on the same evening and the difficulty of organising publicity from London perhaps accounted for the low numbers. The Oxford Spezzati will be performing Bach’s St John Passion in London on April 9. For details see www.spezzati.com.