WORKS: A Symphonic Mass
PERFORMER: Brighton Festival Chorus, Bournemouth SO/George Lloyd
CATALOGUE NO: TROY 100 DDD
Unashamedly Romantic and melodious, George Lloyd makes no concessions to modernity. At best his work has been dismissed as irrelevant, at worst it is seen as anachronistic, hindering progress. Within the last year, though, attitudes have changed. Call it popular rebellion or market whim, but the commercial success of Górecki’s Symphony No. 3 has shown there is a substantial audience for contemporary music with roots firmly secured in the past.
Lloyd says his Symphonic Mass is a choral work with ‘religious overtones’. He wished to contribute to the noble tradition of English church music, but because of difficulties with his religious beliefs, the work had to be non-liturgical. Despite this, he uses the text of the Latin Mass because ‘the words can be repeated a dozen times without anyone noticing’.
Lloyd resents the comparisons, but this music inhabits the world of Holst and Vaughan Williams, with some of the rhythmic impetus of modern musicals. It is also full of tunes. The Credo, for example, swims along to a lovely melody that narrowly avoids being soppy. Elsewhere, the high, dignified arches of his vocal lines lift the spirits, even if they subject sections of the chorus to unwelcome exposure. It is not particularly demanding to listen to, but this should not prevent us from experiencing an emotional intensity that in contemporary music is all too rare. Christopher Lambton