Vaughan Williams Mass in G Minor
The Mass in G minor, dedicated to Gustav Holst and his Whitsuntide Singers but first performed by the City of Birmingham Choir in 1922, is unique in its timelessness. Designed for liturgical use, the music made subservient to religious ceremony, it has a spirituality reminiscent of Byrd and his contemporaries. It shares none of the elaborate structures of the Massess of Bach or Beethoven, let alone Berlioz, yet it is not austere in feeling. It might be described as the vocal equivalent of the composer's Tallis Fantasia, its double choir and four soloists paralleling that work's double string orchestra and string quartet. With its rich polyphonic textures and lack of any dramatic element it is a work better suited to the acoustic of a church rather than that of a concert hall.
“Recorded in 1986 in the superb acoustic of Oxford’s Merton College Chapel, Stephen Darlington directs assured and well prepared performances. The purity of the boys’ voices stands out and the precision of the choral ensemble is outstanding… This winning disc has been in the catalogue for quite some time. It presents mainly sacred music by Vaughan Williams from the Christ Church Cathedral Choir and is quite beautifully sung and recorded.” Michael Cookson, musicweb-international.com