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OF THE MONTH
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OF THE MONTH
Edmund RUBBRA (1901-1988)
Missa Cantuariensis op. 59 (1946) [21:52]
Dormi Jesu op. 3 (1924) [1:24]
That Virgin Child Most Meek op. 114 no. 2 (1967) [3:21]
Missa in honorem Sancti Dominici op. 66 (1948) [20:09]
St Margaret's Westminster
Ian Watson (organ) (op. 59)
rec. 1975, London, AAD
First released on RCA LP LRL 15119 in 1976
CHANDOS CHAN10423 [47:25]
This surely represents a labour
of reverence and of love. What else could have prompted Chandos
to resurrect on CD an LP issued thirty years ago? The tapes
were inevitably analogue and the now frugal timing is consistent
with 1970s LP format.
This is music of undemonstrative
seriousness diffusing light but without the ecstatic radiance
of Howells. The choir is mixed in each of the four works.
These are essentially the two 1940s masses framing two short
carols. The music is inward. There's nothing at all garish;
no pomp and little feeling of ceremony. On the technical
side, only for an instant or two do we hear a suggestion
of analogue distortion in the wildness and antiphonally bounced
bell-evocations of the Gloria in Excelsis from Miss
Cantuariensis. Chandos displaying their accustomed integrity
warn us that this recording was taken from LP and that there
may be distortion. In fact the warning is hardly needed.
The singing of the St Margaret’s
Singers is smooth, spiritual and intellectually engaged.
The two brief carols are atmospherically done. Of the two
masses the Missa in Honorem Sancti Dominici (a
cappella) is the most constantly rewarding, right from
its swaying Kyrie to its gothic-dark Agnus Dei.
In this work one cannot help but wonder if Rubbra had been
influenced by that least religious but most mystical of composers,
Arnold Bax in his masterpiece, the motet Mater Ora Filium. Beside
the op. 66 work the op. 59 seems almost ‘penny plain’ despite
the presence of the organ.
The Latin words are reproduced
in full and translated into English, French and German.
The background notes are fulsome
and are contributed by the composer and by Timothy Storey
and Richard Hickox.
Design details are well up
to Chandos's gold standard. Their choices are pretty much
Well worth adding to the Rubbra
treasury already issued by Chandos: all ten symphonies (also
conducted by Hickox) CHAN 9944(5) (see reviews of individual
Watch, A Tribute, Ode to the Queen CHAN
9966 and Inscape, Latin Lyrics, Song of
the Soul, Veni creator Spiritus CHAN 9847.
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