This album contains 3 works dedicated to St. Cecilia : Odes by Purcell and Handel, and a Mass by Haydn. The good news is that the Handel is excellent, Lucy Crowe giving a fantastic performance in all her arias, Richard Croft manages not to sound like a turkey while singing "the double double double beat" and the orchestral soloists are crisp and energetic. A success in my book.
The Purcell is very good but is not, in my taste, of the same level as Handel. If you already have "Hail ! Bright Cecilia", you don't need this one.
The Haydn "St. Cecilia" Mass consists here of only the Kyrie and Gloria, with 2 movements of the Credo thrown in. H. C. Robbins Landon has identified two inks and types of paper used to write this mass, suggesting the Kyrie and Gloria were written then, the rest much later. So Minkowski doesn't record the whole thing in order to fit all on 2 CDs. So, if like me you prefer complete versions, you need to look elsewhere.
Because of the length of the pieces, they cut Handel's Ode in half, right after the March. This completely breaks the flow of the piece and is clearly unacceptable.
The high price is justified by the fancy booklet. Inside are 2 essays, a note by Minkowski, the lyrics in French, English, German and Latin (for the Mass), and reproductions of portraits depicting St. cecilia. Only 4 show the Saint completely, all others are close-ups of the hands. Who cares ? And even those that show the Saint are only details of the whole portrait. Again pointless. The first essay, by Hilary Finch, is quite good and informative. The second, by Ivan Alexandre, is the typical pedantic dreck written by Frenchmen for countless CD liner notes. I am a francophone from Québec, so I read them and am aghast every time. An excerpt : "the least pure of exegeses achieves the status of pure cinematography". Another : "Litterature, for example, has never managed to draw from the novel what seems so natural in the theatre". Personal opinions couched as facts. You won't read it a second time. Minkowski's notes are informative, but you won't read them often either.
So, I do not recommend this album, which is unfortunate. However, as luck would have it, the Handel version recorded here is also available as Song for St Cecilias Day - a 5-star album that will give you what you really need - the Handel !