Vaughan Williams pays homage to Byrd, Tallis, and Taverner and comes up with the finest a cappella mass since the Elizabethans – the vocal equivalent of the Tallis Fantasia. A modern work nevertheless, it creates and explores a variety of choral textures. Vaughan Williams dedicated it to Gustav Holst and his Whitsuntide Singers. Roger Wagner led his Chorale in the piece's best performance to date, with a stirring account of Bach's Cantata #4 on the flip side – a classic recording of the stereo LP era. All others have paled in comparison. Wagner succeeds because he recognizes the energy within. The other performances sound like an extremely sedate and genteel Sunday sermon, the kind the writer Alan Bennett used to make fun of. Avoid Stephen Darlington and the Christ Church (Oxford) Cathedral Choir. Matthew Best and the Corydon Singers stand at the head of versions currently available.
Recommended Recordings:Roger Wagner Chorale; Roger Wagner. EMI (LP) S-36014
Corydon Singers; Matthew Best. Hyperion CDA66076
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