WORKS: Te Deum; Mass in D minor
PERFORMER: Joan Rodgers (soprano), Catherine Wyn-Rogers (alto), Keith Lewis (tenor), Alastair Miles (bass); Corydon Singers & Orchestra/ Matthew Best
CATALOGUE NO: CDA 66650 DDD
The Corydon Singers under their founder, the singer/conductor Matthew Best, have come a long way in the past 20 years, not least with their performances of Bruckner’s choral music. This disc features the first of three substantial masses dating from the 1860s but begins with the Te Deum of 1884, the work which represents the zenith of Bruckner’s choral writing.
The Corydons recorded it in Westminster Cathedral with its thunderous organ leading the orchestra in that glorious C major opening. But the star of this performance, despite sterling work from the quartet of excellent soloists, is the greatly augmented 140-strong chorus, in particular the sopranos – their top C nine bars from the end will send shivers down your spine. The overall blending (particularly at the unaccompanied cadences) is simply superb.
The Mass in D minor was completed in 1864 and given a successful premiere under Bruckner in Linz Cathedral that year, such success becoming rare for the composer until his Fourth and Seventh Symphonies and the Te Deum in the 1880s. All the performers give a committed and stylish performance under Best, whose grasp of quintessential Brucknerian tempo relationships is admirable. A couple of quibbles: the soloists’ voices are too distant, and the printers of Hyperion’s booklet have omitted a fair amount of opening text in English and final text in German (though it is hoped that my copy was a one-off). Nevertheless this disc is a splendid way for the Corydons to celebrate their 21st birthday! Christopher Fifield