Classical Editor: Rob Barnett

Music Webmaster
Len Mullenger:

PAUL PARAY (1886-1979) Symphony No. 1 in C (CD premiere), Mass for the 800th Anniversary of the Death of Joan of Arc  Lorna Haywood, soprano; Terry Patrick-Harris, mezzo soprano Joseph Harris, tenor; Josik Koc, bass-baritone Royal Scottish National Chorus Christopher Bell, Chorus Master Royal Scottish National Orchestra/James Paul recorded 14-15 September 1996 at City Hall, Glasgow, Scotland REFERENCE RECORDINGS RR-78CD [65.57]

Save around 22% with



The French composer-conductor, Paul Paray, was best known in the United States as the conductor of the Detroit SO (1952-63). He was also a multiple-prize-winning composer of international repute. His own Mercury recording of the Joan Of Arc Mass has been a connoisseur's favourite for many years.

In the present disc we meet the CD premiere of his Symphony no. 1 in c and the first modern recording of the Mass.

What to expect: tuneful and melodious music out of the schools of Franck, Fauré and Chausson.

The symphony dates from three years after the mass. It was written in 1934. Its roots are in the Bizet and Franck symphonies but with romantic and mildly impressionistic elements from Dukas. There is none of Poulenc's frivolity in the emerald green elegance of the first movement although a nobility (quite strongly reminiscent of Elgar 2) strides through the pages to return in the fourth movement. The second movement has a tentative succinct eloquence. The allegretto (III) is at the pace of any similar movement in a Bruckner symphony and some of the string writing had the string cascades and cradle-rocking hauntings of Franz Schmidt (second and third symphonies). The finale is a bacchanal of boisterous joy and that very same Elgarian nobility that stalks the first movement. The closing pages mix in a military set to the jaw. This work makes me eager to hear the second (1940) and third symphonies. Any chance Mr Paul and Reference?

The Mass is quite simply a gem. Its lineage goes back to the Fauré Requiem. The Kyrie has all the soft beguiling of perfumed and exotic plumes. It rises from this sybaritic possession to some operatic singing for the soloists (Verdi's Requiem) and a grand processional for brass in their most commanding mode. The long Gloria is another delight. It is romantic and exciting: swirling and wondrously stomping. The work spirals down from the heights to a reflective Miserere. The Quoniam has all the candle-lit and incense absorbed splendour of the Saint-Saens Third Symphony. The movement ends in tolling and swinging triumph . The Sanctus is memorably celebratory in a vein rather like Walton but with a Gallic accent. There is a blessed Benedictus and the Agnus Dei is a peaceful and winding benediction. A discovery and one likely to appeal especially to lovers of the Fauré Requiem, Saint Saens Third Symphony and Howells' Hymnus Paradisi.

Very good documentation and recording is up RR's usual very demanding standards.

An easy recommendation. Don't miss another of RR's successful adventures off the well-beaten and predictable track.


Rob Barnett



Rob Barnett

Reviews from previous months

Reviews carry sales links but you can also purchase from:

Return to Index