Martin, Britten, Villette, Finzi, Holst & G Ives

Our rating 
4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0

COMPOSERS: Britten,Finzi,Holst & G Ives,Martin,Villette
LABELS: Lammas
ALBUM TITLE: Collection: Jubilate Agno
WORKS: Works
PERFORMER: Arcadian Singers of Oxford University/Matthew O’Donovan; James Davy (organ)
In this very decent disc of sacred music recorded in the chapel of Merton College, Oxford, the palm must go to Frank Martin’s early unaccompanied Mass, a powerful and serenely architectural essay in modal writing that could well stand comparison with the Vaughan Williams Mass in G minor (which happens to be its exact contemporary). This is a smaller-scale, more intimate reading than that by the Robert Shaw Festival Singers on Telarc, but not to the disadvantage of the work’s radiant intensity. Britten’s Rejoice in the Lamb, a 1943 setting, often delightful, of words by Christopher Smart, is also very nicely done. The various fillers – including a gorgeous Poulencian Salve regina by Pierre Villette, and a stirring hymn-setting by Ives (Grayston not Charles) – round out an enterprising programme. The Finzi Magnificat in particular is very eloquently done. The Arcadian Singers display dedication, accuracy and insight into the composers’ idioms. The recording is pleasantly warm and spacious; any buyer looking for this combination of works need not hesitate. Calum MacDonald