Delius: A Mass of Life; Requiem

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COMPOSERS: Delius
LABELS: Chandos
WORKS: A Mass of Life; Requiem
PERFORMER: Rebecca Evans, Joan Rodgers (soprano), Jean Rigby (mezzo-soprano), Nigel Robson (tenor), Peter Coleman-Wright (baritone); Waynflete Singers, Bournemouth SO & Chorus/Richard Hickox
CATALOGUE NO: CHAN 9515(2) Reissue (1996)
Unlike most of his predecessors, Delius made use of the Mass and Requiem for philosophical rather than religious purposes. His Mass of Life sets Nietzsche’s great Zarathustra poem, while what he termed his ‘pagan requiem’, written in memory of the First World War dead, sets words reworked from Nietzsche and Ecclesiastes by a friend. The Mass can be a problematic work, but Hickox proved in his 1996 recording, here reissued, that given a sumptuous recording, sensitive orchestral playing and expert choral and solo singing it can emerge as a truly great one. The lesser-known Requiem, too, has never had such convincing advocacy. Matthew Rye

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