Rheinberger: Mass in E flat; Requiem in D minor

Our rating 
4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0

COMPOSERS: Rheinberger
LABELS: ASV
WORKS: Mass in E flat; Requiem in D minor
PERFORMER: Choir of Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge/Geoffrey Webber
CATALOGUE NO: CD DCA 989
There was a time when Rheinberger’s music was decidedly out of fashion. Times have changed, however, and the technical skill and expressive vocabulary he demonstrated in his large and varied output now seem much more acceptable to our historically informed ears.

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Geoffrey Webber’s programme for this disc furthers the cause of this somewhat forgotten musician. Rheinberger’s music may not have the pyrotechnics and emotional extroversion of that of his contemporaries (many of whom, as Webber points out in the informative booklet, revered him), but it has a technical concision and expressive judgement which make the vocal music recorded here ‘quietly’ captivating. His day-to-day deliberations as a composition teacher doubtless gave rise to this undisturbed perfection and engendered, to use the composer’s own phrase, its ‘singability and beauty of sound’.

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The Gonville and Caius Choir gives an enthralling performance throughout, one which adjudges Rheinberger’s balance between old and new extremely well. The textures are firm but limpid (perhaps the bass needs more carrying power), and the dynamics are convincingly proportioned. The performance of the Requiem is very welcome as are the psalm settings (previously unrecorded), especially Psalm 84 for female chorus and harp. Andrew McCrea