Sacred Choral Music: Vision of
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Ralph Vaughan Williams' sublime Mass in G minor reveals the composer' absorbing interest in using the modal harmonic language and contrapuntal textures of the English late Renaissance to achieve a huge emotional and dynamic range. Undoubtedly the most tec
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The Mass in G minor is RVW's brilliant take on the music of the late English Renaissance. But the Mass is much more than a pastiche of Tallis and Byrd since RVW makes things interesting by mixing up the textures (there are sections solo voices, solo quartets, single and double choir) and creates a deeply moving work that will appeal to listeners who are fond of RVW's pastoral style. While I miss hearing trebles in the music's top line (pick up the recording by the Saint Thomas Choir on Koch for this), this is a very beautiful performance.
The rarities are real treasures. The Voice out of the Whirlwind, an anthem adapted from the "Galliard of the Sons of the Morning" from Job, is a big-boned workout for choir with an especially muscular organ part that is played brilliantly by Ashok Gupta. Perhaps best of all is A Vision of Aeroplanes, a strikingly cinematic take on the tale of Ezekiel and the wheel with another knuckle and foot-blistering organ part.
The performances are all excellent. Timothy Brown is one of the great choral conductors of the English repertoire and he gets responsive and technically polished performances from this fine choir. Kudos to the two organists also, Mr. Gupta is superb throughout and James McVinnie all but steals the show in the Vision of Aeroplanes.
However, the recording engineer has ruined it all with the use of way too much reverb. By doing so, the harmonies become slightly obscured, and the texts become completely lost. What a shame! Still, if you're looking for this repertoire, it is unlikely you'll find it elsewhere. The CD is still worth the purchase for that reason alone.